The arrival of Hector Herrera on July 9th means one thing moving forward. The starting XI is changing and someone will be on the outside looking in. In recent days, the question has arisen. Is that someone Fafa Picault?
The big question coming out of Thursday's press conference is whether or not the player headed out is Fafa Picault. Let's take a closer look at why it just might be the 31 year old midfielder.
After 12 straight starts to begin the 2022 season, Fafa Picault has not started the last two matches. His minutes have declined precipitously. Over the first 12 matches of the season, he averaged nearly 82 minutes a match across all competition. Over the final two matches leading into the FIFA break, he averaged 20 minutes as a sub off the bench.
This could be much ado about nothing as Dynamo head coach Paulo Nagamura seemed genuinely surprised when asked if Fafa was on his way out of Houston. The question came at Thursday's press conference ahead of the team's MLS restart in Orlando.
"I'm surprised as much as you are," responded Nagamura "I have not heard anything from Fafa (Picault), so you guys are probably getting that information from Fox Sports not from here. As far as I know, Fafa is a big part of the club. He's been a very, very important piece. So I really don't know what you're talking about."
Had Nagamura left it at that, the answer would not have brought the follow-up and an answer that makes you wonder if there is more to the rumor.
"As far as I know, every guy that we have in the squad is part of our plans," continued Nagamura. "If they're starting, if they're on the bench, if they're not in the game-day roster, that's a different discussion that we can go deeper into if you want it. As far as I know, I haven't been told that there's any players that want to leave the club or anything like that. So that's as much as I can say to you."
"So that's as much as I can say." Those seven words leave open at least to the inquiring mind that there is more to come but just not yet. If he is not injured, of which at least nothing has been reported why did he suddenly become a sub in the last two outings before the long FIFA break? Did someone suddenly up their game that makes Fafa expendable?
Earlier in his comments, Nagamura appeared to leave the door for a question that was missed in the moment but which will be asked at Saturday night's postgame presser should Picault not be in the lineup and or get limited minutes off the bench. Saturday's MLS restart will breathe more life into this story or it will take its last gasp.
"If they're starting, if they're on the bench, if they're not in the game-day roster, that's a different discussion that we can go deeper into if you want it," Nagamura also said Thursday.
Does the addition of Herrera open the door to move Picault for another piece or future pieces? The answer is yes considering that Memo Rodriguez and Tyler Pasher in particular are in the prime of their careers while Fafa although not old is beginning the backside of his. His trade value is potentially greater at this point as well.
Rodriguez who started just three of the first nine Dynamo games this season has now started every game since May 11th averaging 77 minutes per outing. Memo's passing percentage is at 85% more than 20 percentage points above Fafa's. On the surface there appears to be a connection. Let's see how the lineup looks on Saturday.
Another player Houston might be looking to get more playing time for is Tyler Pasher. Although listed on the roster as a forward, the 28 year old is asked to play a lot on the wing. Maybe its his performance in his last four outings that have caught the eye of Nagamura. Over that span, he has taken five shots, two on target and one in the back of the net. His passing percentage over that time is nearly 90%. Meanwhile Fafa's passing percentage is at 60.3.
So maybe just maybe there is more validity to the question about Fafa's possible departure from Houston. The answers will surely come from Nagamura's lineup and bench selections not to mention the fact that the summer transfer window for most of Europe is about to open as well. The answer about Fafa is surely coming.