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FC Dallas faced off against the Chicago Fire in an attempt to bring back the Brimstone Cup back to the fans. In what I felt was a very complete and wholesome performance, the Huntsmen were able to see of the Fire in a 3-1 game that had some notable surprises. Let’s see how it all went down.

Tactics

Oscar Pareja opted to bring back the 4-2-3-1 for this game as Santiago Mosquera was placed in charge of pulling the strings from the middle. Ryan Hollingshead also made his return back into the Starting XI at left back.

                                                          FC Dallas Starting XI vs. Chicago Fire                                                            “Photo: fcdallas.com”

FCD started this game with a fire in their step as they really went forward on this one in the first 30 minutes of the game. They didn’t really let the Fire find their rhythm which is great and a testament to how well Gruezo was shutting down the passing lanes and just getting his hands (more like feet) dirty.

Events

27′ – Reggie Cannon makes a great run forward and plays in a beautiful ground cross where Carlos Gruezo slots it home for his third goal with FC Dallas. 1-0

Halftime: FC Dallas 1-0 Chicago Fire

69′ – Kellyn Acosta comes in for Carlos Gruezo as Papi aims to link the defense with the attack alongside Victor Ulloa

70′ – Drew Conner picks up a second yellow and is sent off after a nasty tackle on Ryan Hollingshead

74′ – It’s homegrown to homegrown as Victor Ulloa sets up Kellyn Acosta who rifles a shot into the bottom right of the goal from outside of the box. 2-0

81′ – FC Dallas earns a penalty and Reto Ziegler steps up and buries it. 3-0.

82′ – Roland Lamah makes way for Paxton Pomykal. #Playthekids

86′ – Chicago Fire gets a consolation goal after the ball isn’t cleared from the box. 3-1

87′ – Jesus Ferreira comes on for Michael Barrios. #Playthekidspart2. At this point in the game, FCD has 6 homegrowns on the field playing for them (Jesse Gonzalez, Reggie Cannon, Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta, Paxton Pomykal, & Jesus Ferreira). 7 FCD homegrowns are on the field at the end of the match (Richard Sanchez, Fire keeper, is an FCD homegrown who played for FCD before being sold to Tigres UANL in Mexico. Sanchez has made his way back to MLS playing with the Fire). Jesus came close to score off of a Paxton cross but Sanchez smothers the ball.

Final: FC Dallas 3-1 Chicago Fire

Thoughts

This was the most complete game that I have seen FC Dallas play this season. Despite them giving up a goal at the end of the game, it was how they played the game which made this a complete game for the team. The defense was solid and had excellent passing. Our fullbacks were defensively sound and got involved in the attack. Our midfield took care of business and was linking the defense and attack excellently. The attack put away 3 chances there were given and created numerous.

FCD’s shape was interesting as it looked like Lamah and Santi switched positioning. Take a look:

FC Dallas Average Player Shape vs. Chicago Fire
FC Dallas Average Player Shape vs. Chicago Fire               “Photo: whoscored.com”

For Santi taking on the 10 role, it looks like he sneaked over back to the left wing which is interesting to me. It would explain why 42% of the ball was on the left side of the field for FCD with 32% on the right and 26% in the middle. It was the classic play on the flanks and cross into the middle type of 4-2-3-1 that Papi and the fans are familiar with.

FCD took 23 shots compared to the Chicago 5. Shows that the defense and in particular, Gruezo took care of business and really shut down chances that the Fire had. The problem though is that only 6 were on target, 8 off target, and 9 blocked. Finishing is becoming more and more of a concern for me as FCD is now creating chances which is great but they are not putting them away. I’m not sure what can be done FCD really needs to start putting away chances as it could come back to haunt us later in the season.

Gruezo did an amazing job being the destroyer that he is. I really appreciate how Victor was all over the place, being a release for the defense and attack and cycling the ball around. That is something that is not appreciated much.

I’m trying to embrace Roland Lamah more this season but he was just there. I really hope that Mikey Barrios finds his groove again, it’s been a tough season for the guy. Maxi was making sure to keep the Fire defense on their toes which is nice but it would cause him to be out of position. I do feel like Maxi would be suited better ina 2 man striker system. Whether Colman is the answer or someone else, he really does need another striker up there with him that allows him to drop into the midfield and play the ball up. Something to look out for.

Reggie was doing his usual Reggie thing and is progressing nice. Hollingshead did well to be back in the lineup. Hedges shut down plays and was his usual field general self. Reto Ziegler. Reto is my man of the match. I don’t know what it was but he was playing with a fire in him and it really made a difference. He was playing short, medium, and long balls that I remember seeing him play in preseason and during his time in Europe. He was defensively sound despite not clearing the ball that led to the Fire goal. To stepped up and slotted home a penalty and acted like it was nothing special afterward. I don’t know if the coaching staff let him run free because this is the Reto that I am familiar with. He really showed his value and played like a true Swiss national team and Euro player.

We saw Santi take on the role as a 10 today and what I really like the most was Santi’s work rate. Santi was all over the place, moving the ball, making magic on his own, trying to set up others. Take a look at his passing:

Mosquera Passing Chart
Green- successful pass, Yellow- key pass, Red- unsuccessful pass “Photo: mlssoccer.com”

while there is some red, he had 3 key passes which isn’t bad for his first time in filling in the Mauro Diaz hole. You could also tell that his fitness is up as it got to the later stages of the game, he didn’t look all gassed. The only concern that I have is that Santi came in with a high potential and while he still hasn’t reached his full potential, it is taking longer than what I personally thought it would take but there is no need to panic. I think Papi and Santi are still trying to fine tune Santi’s role in this team.

I’m really happy with this result and the way that the team played. I’m looking forward to seeing how Marquinhos Pedroso is going to be implemented in this team.

FC Dallas head south on I-45 to take on the Houston Dynamo in the first of 3 games against the Dynamo starting off the Texas Derby. Watch the game this Saturday, June 21, @ 8:00pm on TXA-21.

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