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There was much speculation on how FC Dallas would be playing under Luchi. He went with a 4-1-2-3 or a 4-3-3 with an inverted triangle in the middle. Interestingly, FC Dallas played in their away kits for the two friendlies. Bayern only brought their red jersey and San Antonio brought their black jersey. It was great to see everyone get some play time as well as some North Texas SC players. FC Dallas downed Bayern Muchin U-23, 4-0. The second game didn’t favor FCD as they lost 1-3.

FCD vs. Bayern Munich FC U-23

In the first half, Jacori stood out the most to me. He was a strong defensive force and helped create the attack. It was refreshing to see the team play out of the back, long balls, and playing through the middle. What was amazing to me was when the ball was on one side of the field, there were 2-3 FCD players on the side with the ball opening up space for other players to move up on the other side. Barrios and Santi were more complete players as both had a hand in the attack and defense. Badji was active in the first part of the first half but seemed to wane off. I think that it was because he was dragging 2-3 players on him which helped open the flanks. Paxton seemed to take on the role of cycling the ball around, but he showed his ability to create. Gruezo was great at the 6 role as usual. Hedges was the normal Hedges and we got to see more of the Reto passing that I have been raving about. Hollingshead had a really good game. He didn’t have much to do defensively but he did do well getting up and down the flanks. Reggie looked game ready and showed lots of experience. Aranguiz showed a lot of life in this game though not too much in the SAFC game. I felt like he was really trying to show his worth too much (ie. he seemed like he was trying too much). I think he will ease into his role and slow down at times. Jesse made some good saves but it was very impressive seeing him talk with his defense. I hope that Jesse’s vocality is something that we can see more of this year. While happy, Jacori was realistic stating, “Even though we showed well, there’s a lot to improve on.”

FCD vs. San Antonio FC

The “first-team” played only 70 minutes due to the workload throughout the week. The same team that finished out the Bayern game started against San Antonio FC. SAFC got an early goal off a header that Jimmy unfortunately missed. Not long later FCD would get a chance themselves off a foul that happened to Pablo Aranguiz. Aranguiz missed wide to the keepers right. Towards the end of the half, SAFC would pull another goal as Amer Didic would dance across our defense without much pressure and bury it in the bottom corner. In terms of how the team was doing, I missed part of the first half doing some interviews, but this team was not as dynamic as the first team. They carried out the same tactics, but the ball was played more around in the back and flanks versus going forward. To me, I found San Antonio FC more tactically sound than Bayern. I think it’s becuase a lot of the guys are older on SAFC and cannot rely too much on skill and technique and thus play more tactically. Bressan and Servania were the standouts for me. I still cannot believe that FCD got such a great player in Bressan. I really think that we will see him a lot this season and not on the bench. Pedroso seems to be struggling with an injury that he had surgery for. With the claim that Bressan is versatile, I think that he will displace Pedroso at the end of the season unless Pedroso can show that his injury won’t be too much of a problem. Towards the end of the half, I noticed what looked like to be a 4-1-2-1-2. Play was built more through the middle and going out wide to spread SAFC. There was a Cobra goal though I wasn’t too impressed, so I won’t hold too much on him now. John Nelson reminds me so much of Zach Loyd who was the gritty type of player. He was holding his own very well. Callum Montgomery also had a solid night and it reminded me of a Matt Hedges performance. Maurer did well and there wasn’t anything different to report on. Kyle Zobeck got some play time which was nice to see, and he looked very comfortable out there. It’s great to know that we have the depth in Zobeck if we do need to call on him.

Takeaways

I would have to say the big takeaways from these games that we saw are tactical fluidity and youth. I feel that these might be the themes of 2019.

Tactical Fluidity

This team looks a lot more fluid and as Reggie stated, “Under Oscar things were a bit more defensive…Luchi wants us to dominate the game as you saw today.” I could not agree more with what Reggie said there. Luchi is beginning to show us his tactical genius and I stand by my argument that the Hunts made an amazing hire in getting Luchi. It wasn’t a matter of if he could do it, but when he could do, and would he be given the opportunity to do so. There were three parts of Luchi’s tactics that interested me.

I found that Luchi liked to defend in 4-1-4-1 and that seemed to be very effective in shutting down Bayern.

FCD Defensive Shape
Photo: Nico Mendez/Dallas Sports Nation

This really helped clog up the middle and with the skill that Greuzo has, he was able to pick out the passing lanes and shut down Bayern’s attack.

Here, the team molded into a 3-4-3 on the attack and I am personally a fan of this type of attack.

FCD Attacking Shape
Photo: Nico Mendez/Dallas Sports Nation

It gives you a nice round shape and you have people spaced all over the field which allows you to move the ball quickly and collapse to a spot if you are focusing your attack on one side or if you are called out on a counter

Lastly, I liked this variation of the formation with the 4-1-2-1-2 when FCD was playing against SAFC

FCD Variation
Photo: Nico Mendez/Dallas Sports Nation

Dallas was being a bit sloppy and going back to playing up the wings. I think that there was a formation change to put more emphasis on playing through the middle and using width as an option to stretch SAFC when getting crowded in the middle. This worked well because Servania was doing a great job with his distribution, defense, and dictating the tempo of the game. Think of Sergio Busquets.

Youth

I think that the youth really showed up. Paxton wasn’t as involved as I’m sure that some thought that he would be. He played a really important role though in helping to move the ball around. He played more of the 8 role that he played in the Academy. Reggie looked season ready and it probably helped that he was with the USMNT. Bryan Reynolds saw some play time at right back and didn’t have much to do but he looked calm. There were a few moments where he seemed a little shaky but nothing too much. Thomas Roberts is really showing his potential and had a great showing. Jesus is looking like he could push for minutes in the first team. He did well on the wings and had a goal but was called for offsides. Edwin Cerrillo needs to be the next homegrown that FCD signs. He was very mature in his play and held his own. Brandon Servania explained to me that, “I think that in the second game that we should have come out a little stronger. I think that [we were] a little too nonchalant in some moments, keeping possession and not trying to kill them and be as dangerous as we could’ve been. I think that we can definitely work on that but overall I think that we did pretty well and looking forward to getting those game in Tuscon.” I would agree with Servania’s assessment and I’m sure that with time, that these younger guys will become more comfortable with their play.


FC Dallas heads on out to Tuscon, Arizona for the last part of their preseason before the season opener on March 2.

Featured Image: FC Dallas
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