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Saturday, February 18, 2012
Fabian Castillo still leader in clubhouse at right midfield

By Todd Date

In the first half of Wednesday’s scrimmage at SMU, FC Dallas was in a 4-4-2 formation with Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez teaming up at striker. Perez was a beast, notching a goal, an assist and nearly connecting for at least several more scores.

And almost immediately, some started wondering if that look signaled that FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman was strongly considering rolling out in a 4-4-2 for the March 11 season opener with New York.

But consider for a moment that formation against the Mustangs didn’t even feature David Ferreira, as the 2010 MLS MVP had not been cleared for full contact until earlier in the day and central midfielders Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson are a ways from being 100 percent after both having off-season knee surgeries.

The readiness level of Ferreira, Hernandez and Jacobson will go a long way in determining whether or not Hyndman goes with the 4-4-2 or sticks with the 4-1-4-1 formation that was the norm in 2011.

Hyndman likes having three guys in the middle of the park, as part of his preferred diamond midfield. Besides Perez, another star of the SMU game was Andrew Wiedeman, who started at right mid and scored the first goal.

Wiedeman has five goals this preseason and some wonder why he won’t be the starter on the right flank come opening day. He is a nice, solid and smart player with a good nose for the ball but he can’t offer the pace that Castillo has in getting up and down the flanks and it looks like there is a much bigger upside with the young Colombian than there is with the Cal product.

But Castillo is far from locked in as the starter at right mid. Ricardo Villar, who is currently out with a calf injury, is also in the mix even though he looks better suited to play a more central role as he doesn’t quite have the speed to be a true threat on the flank.

“Oh, he could definitely be the right midfield,” Hyndman said when asked about where Villar figures into the discussion at right mid. “He could be in the central midfield. I think the thing that Ricardo brings is a lot of versatility.”

However, one player that is out of the mix is Panamanian newcomer Carlos Rodriguez. Before he arrived, Hyndman said Rodriguez could play at both right back and right mid. Well, in an interview last week, Rodriguez said he feels most comfortable on the left side and according to the gaffer, mainly in the back.

“He’s not a right-sided midfielder,” Hyndman admitted. “We looked at him a little bit as a left-sided midfielder but I think he’s a left back.”

So while Wiedeman has clearly shown well for himself over the last few weeks, his five goals and one assist have come against college competition. But if he can replicate those numbers against the tougher competition FCD will see in their upcoming trip to Orlando, then it could be a toss-up as to whether Hyndman goes with him or Castillo come opening day. But Castillo looks to be the leader in the clubhouse by a sizeable margin, but there are three weeks until the season opener, so much can change between now and then.