Editorial – Week 9 of the 2018 MLS season is here, and there are some exciting matchups this weekend. Los Angeles FC open their brand new stadium to Seattle Sounders FC. The LA Galaxy will play host to the New York Red Bulls.
But one of the bigger matches will be FC Dallas vs New York City FC: last undefeated team against the best team in MLS at the moment. NYCFC coming off their first lost this season, and look to dominate at home where they are very, very strong. One major talking point for Sunday will be the FC Dallas formation, and how they handle the Yankee Stadium dimensions.
Week 9 Preview: FC Dallas Formation vs New York City FC
Dallas Head Coach Oscar Pareja has worked lineup changes very well so far in 2018. Moving from his traditional 4-2-3-1 formation to a dual attack threat of a 4-4-2, Dallas seems to be finding a groove. A team more recently known for their counter-attacking strength, Dallas has worked through several midfield adjustments and personnel changes. Most notably #10 Mauro Diaz, who looks to control the midfield and find long through-balls with the 4-2-3-1 formation.
But Dallas has looked good in the 4-4-2 with Cristian Colmán and Maxi Urruti up top. This more traditional four across the middle hasn’t starred Diaz yet this year but allows Urruti to drop in and chase defensively as he likes to do. With Urruti dropping to chase, it keeps the opposing defense on alert with Colmán still lurking around. But when Dallas does this with Urruti as the lone striker, it leaves no outlet for the counter or target in the box.
Predicting Changes for Sunday
Dallas has stayed with the 4-4-2 recently, allowing Mauro Diaz and even Carlos Gruezo to get some early rest. Diaz, who has a history of picking up knocks and injuries, needs to find a way to stay healthy for a full season. Knowing that an FC Dallas formation without Super Mauro can thrive, it allows Pareja to be more creative with his midfield.
Heading into New York for Sunday, I can see Dallas changing things up a bit. Diaz did not play in New England two weeks ago (turf is not his friend) and came on as a sub late in the game against the Union. He’s definitely hungry for playing time, and I see him getting a start Sunday.
With the smaller field of Yankee Stadium comes quicker play. First touch and quick pass and moving will be crucial, and Diaz is known for both of those attributes. In my head, Pareja has been saving Diaz for this match. This will be prime through-ball counter-attack time for Diaz and the wingers.
With Gruezo and Diaz rested and ready, I see both of them back in the starting lineup for Sunday. And because I’m predicting they’ll both start, this also means a change in formation. I think going back to the 4-2-3-1 on a small field gives Dallas the defensive shape and protection they need, and allows them to play wide and counter quickly. With that being said, here is my prediction for Sunday’s starting lineup for FC Dallas:
Goalkeeper – Jimmy Maurer
Defense (left to right) – Anton Nedyalkov, Reto Ziegler, Matt Hedges, Reggie Cannon
Midfield (2 defensive) – Jacori Hayes, Carlos Gruezo
Midfield (3 attacking) – Santiago Mosquera, Mauro Diaz, Michael Barrios
Forward – Maxi Urruti