PORTLAND, Ore. – Heading into the preseason, few in Dallas would have predicted that Andrew Jacobson and Bobby Warshaw (above, right) would be Schellas Hyndman’s midfield pairing on opening day, but after a successful tournament together in Portland, it’s almost a certainty.
Hyndman shook things up after a lackluster performance in the first game of the week in Portland against AIK by moving playmaker David Ferreira outside and inserting Warshaw, a more possession-minded player, next to Jacobson. The move seemed to spark the team as Jacobson became freer to move forward while Warshaw stabilized a team that previously struggled to hold the ball.
“A lot of the stuff we don’t even really have to communicate,” Andrew Jacobson told MLSsoccer.com after Saturday’s Portland tournament finale. “It allows me to step higher and he kind of reads that. I don’t find myself having to turn and worry if he’s in the space or not, he’s usually there and wins the ball well. I think we have a similar understanding to the game.”
Perhaps the most tangible outcome of playing Warshaw though is the effect it has on Jacobson. Despite the 2-1 defeat, Jacobson found himself in much higher and offensively advanced situations on Saturday than in any other game during the week.
“I also think Bobby is bringing the best out of A.J. because he’s capable of doing a lot of the work and the grunt work and physical play,” said Hyndman. “It gives A.J. the ability to get forward and contribute, whether it’s shooting or killer passing and great forward runs. In the past, he hasn’t been able to do that."
Jacobson and Warshaw both say their relationship as friends off the pitch is a great influence as to why they seem to work so well together on the playing field.
“I think you ask any player and they’ll say when you play with people you get along with, you’re going to play well and you’re going to like it,” said Warshaw. “We get along well. He’s a good dude, a good friend and a good teammate. We feel comfortable next to each other.”
The goals aren’t quite there yet, but the final outcome on Saturday against San Jose was an aesthetically pleasing end to the preseason that produced 20 shots and left FCD poised for next weekend’s season opener.
“It’s exciting, isn’t it?” said Warshaw about the team’s offensive fluidity on Saturday. “The fans should be super excited and, as players, we talk and we just say that this is high-level stuff.
“We feel like it’s going to get better and a lot of that relies on that d-midfielder so the other five can make those movements and do what they want. We’ve been working on fluidity and it’s exciting for everyone.”