FRISCO, Texas – With preseason training opening Saturday, new FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja will have his first opportunity to put his players through their paces and begin to put his stamp onto the team. One change that may happen sooner than later is a shift in how the players are deployed on the pitch this season.
Former coach Schellas Hyndman’s preferred formation was a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, but given the personnel on hand last season, he often had to organize his squad in a flat 4-4-2 or even a 4-2-3-1.
Pareja brings a very different tactical vision to the table and would ideally like to see his team deployed in some version of the 4-3-3.
“There are some variations in a 4-3-3 depending on the three in the middle,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday at his official club unveiling. “If you want to do it with the triangle inverted, if you want to do 2-1 or 1-2. I like the wingers, I like that way. Probably the majority of my time in Colorado, it was like that. We will be looking at the personnel, but that would definitely be a formation I would be very [keen] to develop here.”
Technical director Fernando Clavijo has previously mentioned during the offseason that he believed the league was trending towards the 4-3-3 and that he had, “…tried to design the club according to going that direction.” Mauro Diaz will be the creative spark in the offensive third and the defensive responsibilities in a triangle midfield can be handled by the likes of Adam Moffat, Peter Luccin, Andrew Jacobson and possibly even Kellyn Acosta.
But what the team needs is the box-to-box type player that Clavijo has often said will likely fill the team’s third Designated Player slot. Now that Pareja is on board, he’ll have a large say in who that player ends up being.
“I would like to have a player that can glue things in the middle, he can dictate our work ethics in there defensively,” described Pareja. “A player who can link and a player who can back the team from that zone. I would say that is probably one of the most important pieces that we need to add in this moment.”
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In addition to a midfield quarterback, Pareja will also have to select a new man to wear the armband after the departure of longtime captain David Ferreira in the offseason. Players such as George John, Luccin or Jacobson would be the most likely candidates to take over the leadership role. Pareja declined to say which player(s) he might be eyeing to be his voice on the field, but he did give some insight to the thought process he will use to make a selection.
“This is a cliché for sure, but I think everybody understands it is a responsibility to be a leader, the one who makes the other [players] better,” explained Pareja. “The one who wears the arm band on Saturday, they have some choices there, but what happens inside of the locker room stays there.”
“I would like that [leadership] to be a combined effort by many others, not just one.”