After being off for two weeks due to the international break, FC Dallas started their final stretch for the playoffs by taking on the Columbus Crew. It what was most likely the last time that FC Dallas will face the Columbus Crew as the Crew, it was a tactical chess match between Oscar Pareja and Gregg Berhalter. Despite the many changes in tactics and neck-to-neck battle, the Huntsmen and Crew played to a 0-0 draw. It isn’t all doom and gloom despite the scoreline. Here’s how it unfolded.
Oscar Pareja opted for the same 18 (and the same subs) that got him the 4-2 thriller against the Houston Dynamo.
In the first part of the match, Papi started off with his normal home tactic: possession based with smart passes zigzagging up the flack in the middle to the opposition box and play the ball in the middle. After seeing that the Crew was playing a high press, Papi opted to play on the counter which Berhalter quickly followed suit. Then, it became a midfield battle require both team’s midfield to play incisive passes that would split the opposition defenses. It then became a “hold and wait” resulting in the ball being passed along the backline where either team’s defenders would play long balls up to attackers. It was a lot of tactical switching from both coaches who were looking to gain an edge while not giving up 3 points.
17′ – Michael Barrios receives a long ball from Santiago Mosquera and show a bit of skill with a wonderful first-touch, drives the ball forward but blasts it into the side netting.
33′ – Santiago Mosquera has a nice curling freekick but it’s clobbered by Steffen.
Halftime: FC Dallas 0-0 Columbus Crew
45′ – Sub: Maynor Figueroa comes in for Matt Hedges. It is reported that he took a hard shot and wasn’t feeling well. Precautionary measures were taken by the coaching staff.
48′ – Michael Barrios makes a run into the box and chips the ball over the keeper leaving an open goal but the ball is cleared.
69′ – Sub: Abel Aguilar comes in for Dominique Badji as Papi looks to tighten up the midfield
80′ – Sub: Tesho Akindele comes in for Santiago Mosquera as Santi looks tired after putting in a hard shift
83′ – Higuain has the best opportunity for the Crew to take the 3 points by driving a first-time volley low and just wide of the Dallas goal.
Final: FC Dallas 0-0 Columbus Crew
After the dust has settled and given time for my emotions to settle, I don’t feel as bad or frustrated as I initially did with the result. Yes, a draw is not ideal at home and as a fan, you always want your team to win but when you have two teams that are built not to give up goals, you are going to get matches like this. This was a well-contested match and it was a tactical chess match between Papi and Berhalter. This Columbus team does not give up goals (4th lowest goals-against in the league) and their road games are low scoring. Only 24 goals have been scored in the Crew’s 14 road games. 1.7 goals per road game and that the lowest out of all MLS teams with the next closest being Colorado with 34 goals over 13 road games with a 2.6 average. Columbus is hard to team to play on the road and Papi made sure that FCD was going to walk away with at least a point and not giving up all 3.
Tl;dr: Columbus road games are low scoring and getting a draw is normal and better than giving up 3 points.
Jesse had an average night, he made a few saves and one that was amazing to see. One thing that I would like to see improve is his distribution off the ball. I share the same mindset as Jose Mourinho in that a goalkeeper should play safe, smart, passes of the goal-kick to keep possession of the ball. Too many times his goal-kicks are unsuccessful in keeping the ball. Though, Jesse only made 3 unsuccessful passes all game which is definitely a sign of improvement and a trend that I hope continues.
The backline had a great night actually as all players made great defensive plays. Maynor did well for having to step in for the possibly injured Matt Hedges. Reggie and Pedroso didn’t have much of an opportunity to get up the field and that was a result of the high press that Columbus employed. Reto, Matt, and Maynor did well to not have Jesse work too much. Throughout the season, I’ve gotten more confident in our defense which is a great feeling to have heading into the playoff stretch.
I cannot give Gruezo and Ulloa enough praise for their work, they kept Higuain, Zardes, Meram, and Santos much quieter than what they could’ve been. I love the Barrios and Mosquera duo on the wings. The speed that both bring and the creativity and the flair and skill that Santi has is amazing. I knew that Abel was going to come into the match to help close things down but I didn’t think he would have come in before and attacking substitution. He had a rough nice as he made quite a few turnovers and didn’t seem up to speed with the game.
Maxi and Badji had a tough game as they both weren’t able to do much with the ball. Many were upset with how Badji played but I don’t feel like I can yet make a well-informed opinion on him yet. It games like these when I would prefer to see Maxi stay still or play someone else in the middle because formation strength is important in keeping the ball and fending off the press that Columbus was showing.
The subs for me didn’t make much sense. I tweeted at halftime that FCD was lacking creativity in the midfield and that Aranguiz could fix that and it still perplexes me that Aranguiz did not come into the game. I was very surprised by Tesho coming in. While it was a like-for-like substitution, I didn’t feel like it offered us anything new and if any, it hindered us. The subs were a headscratcher (with the exception of the Hedges sub) to say the least.
I think from here on out, that this will be our playoff squad with maybe a few changes here and there as Papi sees fit.
It was great to have El Capitan back and it was cool how they fired the cannon at the start of each half. I hope that is something that they continue to do. It was an amazing sight and sound to hear all the fans do the Viking clap and get into “Go Dallas Go” at the end of the match. You could really tell that the players were feeding off that energy at the end of the match and the intensity from the Huntsmen picked up. So good job to all the fans that came out and please continue to come and out and show your support of this team.
FC Dallas heads on the road to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on September 23 at 6:00 pm. The game can be viewed on TXA-21 and through ESPN+. Vancouver is in their own playoff spot battle as they are 4 points behind the Portland Timbers who currently occupy the 6th and last place in the Western Conference for securing a playoff berth. Vancouver has a favorable home record of 6-3-5 (W-L-T) while FCD is 5-5-3 on the road. FC Dallas currently sits 2nd with 50 pts in the Western Conference and are behind Sporting Kansas City by only 1 point.