Wednesday night's game should be a physical one. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I will skip the long preamble for this 3 questions piece because I know how most of you feel about FC Dallas, and it's the same way I feel about them. You don't need my prose to stoke the proverbial fires (pun intended) for "Hate Week". That's right folks, we get not 1 but 2 bitter enemies in the same week. Nothing would be better than all 6 points against these two teams.
I would like to thank Daniel Robertson of Big D Soccer for working with me on this. Catch the first question below, and the rest after the break. We will also see you here for match previews, gamethreads, and a 3 questions later in the week for the Columbus game. Enjoy...
Hot Time In Old Town Asks Big D Soccer
1. On January 7, the naming rights for Pizza Hut Park expired and it was tentatively renamed FC Dallas Stadium. And on a related note, FC Dallas president Douq Quinn said a shirt sponsorship deal was on the horizon back in July 2011, but that never materialized. What do you think are the main reasons for finding companies willing to invest in the club? Do you think it has to do with a crowded Dallas sports market? Or is it something else? (via James Coston)
Without having inside knowledge, it's tough to speculate on things too much and I don't want to make false statements so you kind of have to dance around the issue. With regards to the question, I think the biggest problems are that the jersey sponsor price may be valued a bit too high from what I've heard in the past and also just overall struggles the front office had back in years like 2008 and 2009 where things really bottomed out. I think it is task #1 right now for Doug Quinn and I would be very surprised if a shirt sponsor was not inked by the end of this season.
With regards to the Pizza Hut Park sponsorship, I think it was more of a mutual decision between both sides to end the deal. FC Dallas gets a lot of value by having their name on the stadium with concerts and everything else that happens as well and they also are not restricted to selling the awful Pizza Hut pizzas at the concession stands. Everything has greatly improved in that aspect.
2. How do FC Dallas supporters feel about the Brimstone Cup rivalry with the Fire? (via James Coston)
I think it's more one for the old-timers than anything. It really barely registers any more as a rivalry for FC Dallas, as sad as that is. Rivalries are built on the field and this one just hasn't had any sort of incidents to stoke the flames (pun intended) in many years.
With the teams moving to separate conferences, Houston coming into the league as the main rival and also the fact that the teams only play once now, I just don't think the rivalry exists like it used to which is a shame but just how things are. I would imagine that most Fire fans feel the same way about it.
3. How far is David Ferreira from coming back? Has he had set backs or was he slated to come back late in the season? (via Rudy Gomez)
He's getting close, for real this time. He was all set to come back before the start of this season, playing in some pre-season games and looking back to his old self. He went down to Orlando with the team for the Walt Disney Cup and sustained a completely different foot injury in the game against Orlando City where he was bizarrely hacked all over the field in the first half of a pre-season game.
David had another surgery and has been recovering. After this weekend, FCD has just two MLS games between now and July meaning that David has been targeted for an early June return to training and an early July return to the pitch. It's tough to judge anything FCD has done this season on the field without Ferreira as we all know how different and how much better this team can potentially be in the second half of the season with "El Torito" back on the pitch.
Big D Soccer Asks Hot Time In Old Town
1. Chicago has had some pretty nice results this season so far, beating SKC and Chivas USA among others...what went wrong at Portland on Sunday night?
Portland is always a tough place to play. There is of course the notorious big, loud crowd but honestly the biggest factor in the loss was the size of the pitch in most Fire fan's opinions. While a few feet here or there don't seem to be a lot, we crunched some numbers at HTIOT and found that there is a big difference between Jeld-Wen and Toyota Park. Toyota Park pitch is 120x75 (yards). Jeld-Wen is 110x70. Again, that doesn't seem to be a lot until you do the math. Our home pitch is 9,000 square yards. Jeld-Wen weighs in at only 7,700 square yards. That is a big, big difference. Our team is built off speed, among other things. Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko are greatly nullified when they are playing in what is essentially a shoe box (as one of the Fire players succinctly put it). Despite the small pitch, it is something every team has to face at Jeld-Wen and we did not overcome that.
The other main reason for the loss was poor play on set pieces. Both goals came off of poor defending in the box. The first goal saw a bunch of Fire defenders ball watching as Portland was allowed to get multiple touches in the box before the ball even went into the back of the net. So far this year we had been doing a decent job on set pieces so the Portland game was certainly a step back from that. The backline is also trying to deal with injuries and right now we are employing two very capable but very young defenders in Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry. While Anibaba is in his second year and sees starting XI action every week, Austin Berry only has a few starts under his belt now. As the season goes on and Austin settles into his role I definitely think the backline will shore up much more than they are right now.
2. Just 72 hours between games, especially a road game then a home game, is a pretty short turnaround. Do you envision changes to the Chicago lineup and will the short turnaround affect them much?
I think the short turnaround will affect us somewhat, as it would any team. Fortunately, due to early bye weeks, we have had more rest than most teams, but that extra rest will be depleted quickly as the Fire are in the middle of a very busy stretch. I definitely think the Fire will switch the lineups around a bit in either the Dallas or Columbus game, but not both. I would say it might be a bit more likely to see some lineup juggling for the Dallas game and then a full lineup for the weekend game since it is a road game.
Chris Rolfe is getting closer to being match fit so once he is ready that will change the look of the lineup in and of itself. I don't think he will be ready for tomorrow's game, but it is possible he could be ready for a brief appearance this weekend in Columbus.
3. All the FCD oldtimers that read the site remember Dominic Oduro as a guy that we really loved who, if he could just put some finishing skills with that speed, would be a fantastic MLS forward. It seems like he's put everything together, how has his season gone so far?
He has done very well so far. Most fans were wondering whether last year's goal tally was a fluke but I am happy to report that it doesn't seem to be. As you know, Dom has a deadly weapon in his legs, but he has still struggled from time to time with his finishing. He has had some looks this year that should have been put away, and other looks that go in the net when no one is expecting it. Sometimes I like to joke that he makes impossible shots seem routine (see his headed goal vs. the Union) and the routine shots impossible. It can bee a bit frustrating at times but overall we are very happy with his output. He has truly developed into a dangerous striker. The only thing the Fire have been needing to figure out recently is who we have (or who we can acquire) that can help him out with the goal scoring.
Bonus: Give us a Chicago player who may not be a household MLS name but could make a big impact on Wednesday night
I am going to say Rafael Robayo. He is a new signing we made this offseason and he is starting to ease into some playing time. He is a pretty versatile midfielder, and honestly Sebastian Grazzini (our midfield conductor) could use a rest. I expect to see him get rested some in one of the games this week. One of the problems the Fire had last year was that there was no depth behind Grazzini. When he was hurt, it severely impacted our offense. I won't go out on a limb and say Robayo is clearly a replacement for Grazzini. I think he has that ability but we just haven't seen enough from him yet to say that. He is touted as being a versatile, box to box midfielder. Although his first appearance or two was a bit shaky, Robayo has rounded into form and is beginning to look dangerous. I would like to see what he could do with a chunk of playing time because I think he could be on the verge of getting into a groove.
The only downside to Robayo per se is that he pretty much came out and said he was using the MLS as a stepping stone to Europe next year. He was a bit harsh on MLS play and the league, so that has created some hard feelings in some fans eyes. While I don't necessarily agree with the attitude, if he wants to play in Europe he is going to have to step up and show international teams something. There is also some debate as to when the comments were said, and that Robayo might have changed his tune now that he is getting playing time. He was used to captaining the Colombian side Millonarios, so moving to MLS and not playing at first was probably a bit frustrating. That being said, he would be one to watch if he steps on the pitch Wednesday.