Round 2 for FC Dallas’ 2019 introduced what many fans were clamoring for: Paxton Pomykal and a win. FC Dallas also faced a Zlatan-less LA Galaxy as so the lion was tamed well before the game began.
On way to the gate, I didn’t see a single Galaxy jersey to that is a positive, though it did look like that they had their dedicated section on the southwest side.
The starting 11 featured the addition of Paxton Pomykal for the injured Jacori Hayes. After leaving the Revolution game with what initially looked like a cramp, it appears that it is more serious, so the club is proceeding cautiously. Marquinhos Pedroso also was in the 18 which means that he is healing and that the competition at the left-back position is heating up. Brandon Servania saw his first game-day roster of the season as well.
The first half ended with FC Dallas having 64% possession and 336 passes compared to the Galaxy’s 180. They came out calmer than what we saw in the Revolution game. As a result, there was lots of ball movement along the backline and when it came to the attack, lots of incisive through balls. The attacking play was more concrete though, FC Dallas was missing that final pass and touch that could get them on the scoreboard. Paxton was roaming everywhere and trying hard to create some magic. Santiago Mosquera also was drifting into the middle quite a bit. Badji had a chance at an open goal but it was a little difficult for him to score while running at full speed and being off balance after winning the ball back. The team seemed a bit apprehensive when it came to trying creative plays and making runs forward.
The second half was a little different for FC Dallas. Reggie Cannon went down with an ankle injury and Marquinhos Pedroso was brought on. There was more fluidity in the midfield which played a large part into the attacking chances and opportunities that the team had. One thing that stood out to me was how much more roaming that Santiago Mosquera was doing in the second half. The team also seemed to favor attacking down the flanks as the game wore on as well. FC Dallas earned a penalty kick off a stray high leg that brought down Matt Hedges. Reto Ziegler buried the PK to get FCD on the board. 8 minutes later, Paxton Pomykal found himself on the left side of the field and plays a ball back into the middle where Bryan Acosta has a first volley that is blasted near the upper-90 for a 2-0 lead.
Thoughts and Takeaways
In this game, we really saw what Luchi Gonzalez’s style is. Some stats first: 604 passes, 88.3% pass accuracy, 64.0% possession, and 830 touches for the home side. Gruezo, Acosta, and Pomykal had a total combined of 284 touches and 168 passes with 4 key passes. All three players really made their presence known in the middle with favor towards the right side. The fluidity of the midfield is something that Coach Gonzalez stressed and that was evident into today’s game.
“Those midfield pieces are interchangeable, they’re fluid. So, at any moment any player could be a 6 any midfielder can drop in a line of three or four. Any midfielder can become a 10 or a playmaker so we want that fluidity and flexibility and then defensively we want them structured so that they’re compact and helping us get the ball back. They showed that they can do it and sustain for a 90-minute game and help us get a positive result.”
It looked like FCD was playing an inverted triangle with Pomykal as the apex and Gruezo and Acosta underneath him in the first half. This was a rather rigid shape and Paxton really tried to make things happen on his own. Part of the issue with Paxton doing the creative work was whenever he would move to any side, a gap opened in the middle. This changed in the second half and we saw the fluidity of the midfield which really allowed FC Dallas to mold its shape in the defense and the attack.
It looked like that Santi was roaming a lot more into the midfield than we saw of him last year, in the preseason, the Revolution game, and even the first half. I think that he has taken on the creator role out on the field and we saw more of it in the second half when the midfield took on a more fluid role. By the end of the game, Santi had moved more into a central role.
It does kind of make me wonder as to what role Pablo Aranguiz has with the team. If Mosquera is cutting in on the attack and serving as a creative force, I would think that you would want a balance and ask for the same on the right flank. Barrios is more of a pure winger and tends to go at defenders and plays more vertical. The question for me becomes: do you play Barrios who offers more in the final attacking phase and can kind of cut in and create or do you play Aranguiz who is more of creative player that has played some time on the wing (though it was left wing). Though, if we are being honest, Aranguiz really is a 10 though Pablo did sub out for Barrios so…
I am not saying that we need to bench Barrios or that Aranguiz needs to start (though I’m sure that other people have varying opinions) but it is an interesting development that is taking place and one that I will have my eye on. It does beg the question as to Aranguiz’s role and how his development with the club is going. He is about to turn 22 (March 17) so he is still very young and under a head coach and coaching staff that have coached the majority of latest homegrowns, I wouldn’t worry about his development.
Of course, this is all speculation and could mean nothing and I could be making this more into something that what is there…
It was great to see Edwin Cerrillo make his professional debut with the team. He looked calm out there and I know for a fact that he is going to be a mainstay for the team when his time comes. It will be good for him to continue to get game time and get that experience that will help his development.
“Obviously, it kinda sounds cheesy but, it’s a dream come true. It’s a moment that I’ve been waiting forever since I was a little kid. Trying to play professional soccer, the first step was obviously signing my first contract. My next goal I had in my career was making my debut. It was surreal honestly. I was pretty nervous the first two minutes. After a little bit, I kinda settled in, it kinda looked like training. I got the confidence in me and I am just happy with the minutes that I got today.”
Overall this was a good game against an average MLS side. The team came in a implemented their game plan and adapted when things were not working out in their favor.
Featured Image: FC Dallas