FC Dallas returned home after a road loss to the Columbus Crew. This was former FC Dallas and homegrown product, Kellyn Acosta’s first game back to Toyota Stadium. There were many firsts in this game as Luchi and his team pulled out a 2-1 win.
Formation and Game
There were some firsts in this game. Carlos Gruezo and Bryan Acosta were gone on international duty which allowed Pablo Aranguiz and Edwin Cerrillo to earn their first starts of the game. Dom Badji moved to left wing sending Santiago Mosquera to the bench as Jesus Ferreira would be the center forward. Reggie Cannon made his return to the starting lineup after coming off an ankle injury. Zdenek Ondrasek and Thomas Roberts make their first 18 and their MLS debuts in this game.
FC Dallas got the half off to a stellar start as they came out of the gate with a fire lit underneath them. In the first corner, Aranguiz played the ball to the top of the box where Badji took a first-time shot where the ball hit the side frame. This was the story for the first 10 minutes of the game: FC Dallas getting in the box, but the ball would not find its way into the back of the net. Though, in the 35’, Jesus Ferreira would lay the ball off to Michael Barrios who would smash the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. FC Dallas would dominate the tempo of the game with 55.9% possession, 321 passes, and 411 touches of the ball in the first half.
FC Dallas came out in the second half a little flat and it was very reminiscent of the New England game though FCD quickly found their form and was playing with a new intensity. I found it interesting that the team was playing in a 4-2-3-1 when defending. Santi came on for Pablo Aranguiz as Thomas Roberts and Zdenek Ondrasek made their MLS debuts. They came in for Jesus Ferreira and Dom Badji respectively. Both lit up the attack and it only took 4 minutes before Roberts had a major impact by creating a chance for Ondrasek who took a shot as Ryan Hollingshead got the rebound to score the winning goal.
Thoughts and Takeaways
Things Were Open
The subsection title says it all. Colorado was content with sitting back at times which gave FC Dallas the space they needed to create. The average team positioning had opened which is a change from the past few games.
What is more interesting this game is the ball location on the field. Coach Gonzalez and his team were able to move and keep the ball higher up the field as they went under 30% possession in the FCD third for the first time this season.
I take this as a sign that they were able to make their possession more meaningful since the ball was higher up in the field which lead to more attacking opportunities. While they went down to 52% possession this game, they made it worthwhile. An interesting note is how the team defended in a 4-2-3-1. It’s the shape that I am interested in and not so much the actual roles that players have in the formation (i.e. it is not the Papi 4-2-3-1 that we were used to). It’s still a 4-3-3 but imagine pushing the flanks down towards the defense which creates an arrow shape. This helps clog the middle and help guide the ball to the flanks where FCD players can overwhelm the opposition and use the sidelines to shrink the field.
Edwin Cerrillo signed back in February and just over a month later made his first start and played a full 90, he put on a good performance. I asked him about how things are going for him so far and he said, “Honestly its come quick, its come fast. I signed a couple of weeks ago and thankfully I got my debut. That was the game for me to get all the nerves out and make that dream come true and I worked hard this week to get that starting role. I am thankful that I got the 90 minutes today and just keep bidding on experience.” There were some moments that he did look raw but that’s okay. He’s learning and with his potential, it’s going to be fun watching him grow. I did like how much he was moving around the field and was not afraid to get stuck in with challenges. I like how he molded himself along the backline in the build-up play.
Paxton did well tonight as well and is really embracing his role in the team. Pablo Aranguiz made his first start of the season and was having a good game. He had 2 chances created which was the same as Paxton. Pablo had 88 touches, 43 passes, with a 76.7% pass rate.
His rate is a little low compared to the rest of the team but that is because he attempted some creative passes which his play style is. When asked about Aranguiz’s performance, Luchi stated, “I thought Pablo did very very well. He got a little fatigued there in the second half [and] that’s why we made the adjustment…Pablo can have his head up high for a very good performance that helped us create a lot.”
Jesus Ferreira made his first start of the season and he made his presence known. The Rapids did afford him some nice space but quickly learned that they cannot give him too much space. What I liked was how calm he was on the ball. I initially thought that he got the assist to Barrios’ goal, but Carter Baum helped clarify:
Mezquida got a toe on the ball in the pass negating an assist
— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) March 24, 2019
Zdenek Ondrasek, The Cobra, made his MLS debut and he brought energy to the team. People are split on Ondrasek’s performance and that he maybe should’ve scored the goal (which he said that he should’ve) but he was keeping the Rapids backline occupied. He was running into space, creating space, and trying to win the ball. He also is a great personality in the team.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 23, 2019
Love how he celebrated with the team. After the game, he went to the supporter groups and thanked them for their performance. He did try to get the whole team to thank the fans, but it was to no avail. He has a wonderful mentality. It is still going to take some time for him to get used to a new culture and team.
Thomas Roberts finally made his debut and it did not take long for him show us all as to why he might be one of the greatest to come out of the FC Dallas Academy. His most obvious impact was moments before the second FC Dallas goal. Here is what Roberts had to say about the goal. “I was lining up to shoot it first and when I saw it come in I kind of stepped back a little bit. I saw Cobra as they shut me down and I looked up for a second and I knew that he was going to be there.”
It was a good game overall, and it shows that FC Dallas is growing as things are coming together as a team. You can tell that Luchi Gonzalez is growing and learning as a coach as he is adjusting the game plan each game. I ask Ryan Hollingshead about how things are coming together under a new coach with the team and tactically and here is what he had to say: “After 4 games, we have a lot of good ideas. We still need to sharpen things up.
We have been playing really well with the ball, possessing the ball [and having] a lot of percentage possession and [it] really favors the team but it hasn’t been dangerous possession. It hasn’t been possession that is beating the line and attacking the goal. That has been the focus the last week and that will be the focus moving forward is possessing with a purpose and going somewhere with our possession. You saw that a lot today. We had a lot of attack, a lot of good chances and that needs to continue.”
FC Dallas heads on the road to take on Real Salt Lake for their 1st of 3 road games in the next 4 games.
Featured Image: FC Dallas