FC Dallas returned home as they took on the Portland Timbers in a 2-1 win. The weather held out for the majority of the game and it goes without saying that there was some controversy towards the end of that game (as there always is with Portland). Despite the result, as the match wore on, it turned into a hard-fought win.  

The Game

Jesse Gonzalez, Pablo Aranguiz, and Carlos Gruezo returned to the starting lineup. Santiago Mosquera was on the bench after missing the last two games.

FC Dallas was very patient in the first half. The speed of play wasn’t as fast as previous games but that didn’t mean that FC Dallas wasn’t going for the win. Jesus Ferreira scored what was initially an offsides goal off a deflected pass from Michael Barrios. This goal went to VAR, but after some discussion, the goal was given. FC Dallas was patient with their play and tried to look for moments to go forward.

The second half was very similar to the first in terms of style of play. Portland almost scored an own-goal as Attinella made an amazing save where Pablo was fouled in the box going for the deflected shot. Reto smashed the ball into the upper-90 to give FC Dallas the 2-0 lead. Portland pulled one back off a nice chip to the back post where Paredes scored off the header. Santiago Mosquera came in for Aranguiz, Hayes came in for Cerrillo, and Bressan made his MLS debut as he came in for Jesus Ferreira.

When asked about the second half, Pomykal said, “Second half needs to be better from the whole entire team. I felt like we dropped off a little bit and didn’t really play our game and we have to look at the film and figure things out and go from there.”

Thoughts and Takeaways

The Attack

The way the ball moved amongst the attack also changed in this game. There were nice interchanges between the attacking players. The attack moved the ball around with the intent of getting the ball towards the goal while creating space for the attacking players. The interchange between Jesus and Pablo, and, Jesus and Barrios was very pleasing to the eye.

One could really appreciate the effectiveness of these quick passes in the first half as the ball was played up the middle or flanks with the end goal (pun not intended) being in the middle. The ball then moved out to one of the wide players who was in space as Portland crashed into the middle. This creates space in the flanks where the ball ended up most of the time. Barrios/Aranguiz then had time to make the run into the box or along the length of the box as Jesus runs at goal pulling the defense back. This opens space in the middle for either Jesus or the opposite winger to have a chance at goal. What was missing in the final run of play was a late runner from the midfield.

It is a shame that we haven’t seen much of this attacking play because FC Dallas did a really good job of this type of attacking in the preseason and it appeared to work well. Hopefully, this is something that is worked on in training because it was really pleasing to watch.

Change in Style of Play

This game presented a nice change to the style of play. FC Dallas was more patient with the ball. They didn’t try to force the ball up to the attack and hope that the attack could make something out of it. They moved the ball around the field waiting for a gap to move the ball up. Granted, Portland was giving FC Dallas lots of space in the first half. The second half was a different story as FC Dallas looked more unsure on how to move the ball as the half wore on. This is not so much on FCD as Portland is down two goals and Portland will be more offensive and take more risks to get back into the game. Once FCD scored their second goal, Portland really employed the press. As a result, FCD began to display emergency defending, similar to the Philly game. Luchi brought on Bressan to help keep the backline tidier. It goes without saying that FCD needs to improve on closing out games.

“I think we need to close the games. We create a lot of goal action that’s really positive, but we have to score two-three goals to break them out mentally. If it doesn’t happen, we have to keep the ball and not just wait and keeping the score,” Ziegler said. “We just adapt to the game. It was not the most beautiful game but we’re really happy with the three points.”

FC Dallas as of late has favored to go down the right side, which is understandable since there is lots of change on the left wing between Aranguiz and Mosquera. FCD favored the left side 28%, the middle 22% and the right side 50% of the time this game. There might be a concern of becoming too dependent on one side of the field and therefore become predictable. Given how much control FCD had on the ball and tempo of the game (until the latter part of the game), FCD sat back more in this game which isn’t ideal if you are trying to get the ball up the field and score.

Average Positioning
FC Dallas left & Portland Timbers right Photo: whoscored.com

The patience and balance that FCD had in the first half worked but didn’t in the second half which suggests that there might need to be a change to tactics and mentality.

Individual Players

Jesus Ferreira displayed his skill and natural attacking abilities in this game. His ability to get forward, connect with other players, and remain calm in front of goal were all attributes that one can find from a more experienced player. He finished the game with 5 shots taken, 1 shot on target, 1 chance created, 20 passes with an 85% pass completion.

Pablo Aranguiz had an interesting game based on the eye test. His off the ball movement was good, and he had the right intentions with his positioning and ball placement. Unfortunately, the statics don’t support the eye test. 67% pass success rate, 18 passes, 1 key pass, and 35 touches. In other words, he wasn’t much in the play. Though, many of the passes that he attempts were ambitious crosses, long through-balls, or balls played into space for a teammate to run at. Could it be that Aranguiz is being too ambitious now and still trying to hone his skill? Is he thinking so far ahead of the team that it looks like he is just missing teammates or that the team has gone for some time without a true 10? Aranguiz is 22 years old and there really isn’t much to worry as it looks like Aranguiz is trying to figure out how to combine his natural tendencies with how the team and coaching staff wants to play.

What really matters is that FC Dallas got the job done at home and came away with 3-points. It may not always be pretty, but the coaching staff and team are learning and Luchi Gonzalez is very adamant and vocal about that. He is learning and adapting which is really the most important thing that fans could want from him.

FC Dallas head on the road to take on Atlanta United at 3:00 PM on Saturday, 4/20.

Featured Image: FC Dallas
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