FC Dallas closed their Wednesday training session on the stadium field to the media, which has many speculating on what sort of lineup Schellas Hyndman will run out on Thursday night against the New England Revolution.
Here’s one such theory and an idea that seems to have some legs to it.
FCD Rolls Out in a 4-4-2
This 4-4-2 would feature Blas Perez and the now healthy Fabian Castillo up top. Shea would play to the right flank with basically left side only Carlos Rodriguez where he could better handle things. Jacobson would slide from linking to holding mid with ex-captain Daniel Hernandez serving a suspension for getting a pair of yellows in last Friday’s 4-1 loss at D.C. United. Ricardo Villar would of course occupy the No. 10 spot.
In the back, Hernan Pertuz would slide over from center back to fill in for Jair Benitez, who is also suspended, at left back while George John returns to a starting role alongside current captain Ugo Ihemelu with Zach Loyd in his normal spot on the right side. Of course, Hartman would return to his usual place between the posts for FCD.
Pairing Perez and Castillo together up top could wreak considerable havoc on the Revs back line, especially with Castillo’s pace and Perez’s precision in and around the net. Shea can handle the right, and actually really likes it there cause he can cut inside easier, while putting Rodriguez on the left will make him the most comfortable.
As for the defense, Pertuz wasn’t a bad fill in at left back at Kansas City when Benitez moved to left mid and is a serviceable solution there at least for now. However, it’s most likely he only starts there for one game because that job looks to be Benitez’s to lose and recent lack of emotional intelligence aside, he still sits in good stead with Hyndman.
Getting the John and Ihemelu tandem back together in the middle can never be a bad thing, especially considering the strong chemistry they have displayed during their time playing together with FCD over the last few years. Maybe having that dependable duo in the middle could also help Loyd out a bit, who comes into Thursday’s game after one of the tougher performances of his short MLS career.
The biggest con with this potential formation switch could center around Jacobson. It’s no big secret that he’s been an absolute turnover machine in the middle of the park for FCD early in the season and that he hasn’t been anywhere near the player he was for much of last year, even while he was battling his way through a knee issue.
But if that good Jacobson can return to the pitch for Dallas, then this 4-4-2 has a legitimate chance of working. If the evil goateed A.J. that has been the norm so far this year is again in the building, this switch may just be doomed from the start. Jacobson can handle the responsibilities associated with being the defensive mid, but his distribution obviously has to be much better in the 4-4-2 because there will be no safety valve in Hernandez behind him should he make a bad pass in the middle third of the pitch.
Maybe one theory in play with Jacobson this year, and it might not be one Hyndman or FCD fans want to hear, is maybe A.J. is a one year player. Look at his career to date. He spent one season in D.C. and another in Philadelphia before they decided to let him go. United left him exposed in the 2009 Expansion Draft and the Union didn’t seem all to broken up to ship him off to FCD last preseason. Maybe these are both cases of mere coincidence, but then again it happening two times makes it anything but a fluke. I'm just speculating but perhaps it’s something to consider.
While one hates to put so much pressure on one player, there’s no doubt that tomorrow night’s game should FCD roll out in the 4-4-2 could very well hinge on the central midfield and how well Jacobson plays. If he and Villar can work well together, then it could be a great night for Dallas supporters. But if not, it will be another result to file in the ever-growing file of games to forget about in very short order.