Latest News

Storylines | "Next Man Up" Mentality On Full Display For Dallas


Greetings, lake bird lovers! Storylines is back and would like to extend a “good luck” to my co-workers Dayne, Tani, Robin, Teemu, Kervin, Joseph, Alejandro, Carlos, and Zarek, while they are all OOO on international business. Safe travels, to all...let’s stay uninjured out there, fellas!

OK, let’s get back to business stateside, as the show must go on without a number of top performers from the first-team roster this Saturday when MNUFC hosts FC Dallas at Allianz Field. As far as Dallas’ current state of affairs, while the Frisco side still maintains a talented roster, they have struggled to find their form this season, as they currently hold the 12th spot in the Western Conference. That doesn’t cancel out the possibilities of Dallas’ flipping the switch and making it more of a challenge for the boys to prevail. But, with 9 of our own away on international duty, and potentially being without defender Micky Tapias as he secures his green card, it certainly doesn’t hurt to face Los Toros at home and while they are still trying to get their groove back. Regardless of which players fill the voids in the Starting XI on Saturday, fans can stay cautiously optimistic about MNUFC’s chances this weekend.

In his short time at the helm, Coach Eric Ramsay has evolved the expectations for this club when it comes to playing well without pivotal players in the lineup. His willingness to take risks and change formations that are more strategically designed to exploit an opponent’s weaknesses has been a refreshing approach for the club. Beyond his willingness to reengineer the structure of his lineups, Ramsay has also proven that his strategic IQ translates to his usage of personnel. From what I’ve seen so far this season, Ramsay puts players in spots that he believes they can be their best soccer selves, rather than force a player to work within a system they aren’t suited to. He likes to stay predictable, Ramsay has a knack for shaping a game plan to fit the talent available, maximizing their specific strengths to achieve the best possible results on the pitch, the scoreboard, and in the standings.

While his comprehension of the game and constant creativity have led MNUFC to their most successful start to a season ever, not having 10 of your best players in your lineup is a lot to contend with. So, who will Chef Ramsay bring into the mix to keep Dallas at bay? I have no idea, but that’s the way Chef Ramsay wants it to be, so let’s prognosticate a bit. The attacking third will still be featuring some of its usual firepower, with buddy-comedy-in-the-making Bongokhule Hlongwane and Sang Bin Jeong likely to keep the pace humming and Dallas’ defense on its toes. And, while both are managing injuries respectively that could keep them from a substantial role, having Caden Clark and Franco Fragapane can only enhance the Loons attack, if they’re able to go on Saturday. That doesn’t mean that some fresher faces won’t find their way into the attack for this one, though, as Ramsay will look to forward Jordan Adebayo-Smith to keep up the pace and find points, or Twos forward Patrick Weah, in a reserve role, at the very least.

The midfield and defensive thirds will likely have a few more personnel decisions to offset the club’s international absences, not to mention some possible injury replacements. While the mids will retain some of its stability with Hassani Dotson and Wil Trapp available, question marks on depth may remain as we move down the chart. Of those available, midfielder Moses Nyeman feels like the most logical option to see minutes. Alternatively, the squad could rely on its MNUFC2 roster to step into the midfield, with the best options being some combination of midfielders Rory O’Driscoll, Molik Jesse Khan, and Kage Romanshyn Jr. to step up to the big stage.

Defensively, Boxy will be in the middle, which is ideal in any scenario, but Micky Tapias’ status remains unclear as he works to get this green card status squared away before the weekend. If that doesn’t come to pass, the boys will still almost certainly be without DJ Taylor after being injured against SKC, but thankfully, Devin Padelford has put in plenty of minutes as a starter already this year, so it won’t be a completely new crew in the back. But, it does mean that we will likely look to first-team reserve Morris Duggan to fill the void, as well as looking at a few of the Twos jumping up to the first-team, with defenders Britton Fischer and Finn McRobb being potential candidates to step in. And, if need be, the Loons won’t hesitate to look to their Academy roster to solidify the defensive third. At the very least, the goalkeeper status for Saturday seems more solidified with veteran keeper Clint Irwin and MNUFC2’s Alec Smir being the most logical options to fill in for Dayne St Clair while he’s away with the Canadian National Team.

But, as we’ve seen before, Coach Ramsay can cook up something completely unexpected using the ingredients he has on hand. And, however he decides to execute Saturday’s lineup, let’s hope it's a dish that can get positive results, while the boys are away doing their home countries proud.