FC Dallas took on LAFC in the first game of the quick back-to-back series in a 0-2 loss. Despite the score, there were many things that FC Dallas did well, but small lapses once again plagued FC Dallas.
The second game was much livelier as both teams wanted to end the series on a positive note. FC Dallas went on and drew with LAFC 1-1.
The First Game
FC Dallas came out in the first half with the intention of sitting back and absorb the LAFC attack and look to attack on the counter. LAFC challenged FCD with a high press that utilized the skill of their players as their passing fluidity. Both teams could not find a break in each other defenses but a quick pass to Carlos Vela waiting inside at the top of the box was the cause of the opening goal.
The second half was a different story for FC Dallas. They came out with much more energy and intensity. Michael Barrios went out as it appeared that he was still suffering from the effects of a first-half challenge. This initiated a Pablo Aranguiz sub who helped light up the Dallas attack. Ryan Hollingshead came in for Zdenek Ondrasek and Ema Twumasi came on for John Nelson. Despite the changes, LAFC scored another goal that was shrouded in controversy and technicalities.
Thoughts and Takeaways
New Shape & Defence
Taking on the current hottest team in the league who has one of the most in-form attacking players is not going to be an easy task for any team. With that being said, and FC Dallas having been scored on twice in this match, the defensive play was quite refreshing and different this game. In defense, FCD took on a 5-4-1 shape and preferred to sit deep in their own half. This invited LAFC into the Dallas third (41% of the game was played in the Dallas third) as FCD looked to clog the middle and try to win the ball back in tight spaces and go at LAFC on the counter. Overall it worked well, obviously with the exception of the two goals which came to down to the overall shape not being maintained and having too much space between players.
“We have been able to adapt little-by-little to the rhythm of the league, the games, and to the rhythm of what the club wants. Unfortunately, the results have not been what we have wanted but we still have the mindset, my teammates and the coaches, that if we can’t get this match now, we have the rematch this weekend.” – Bryan Acosta
Jacori Hayes had the most tackles with 6 being made, Reto Ziegler had the most interceptions at 3, Matt Hedges had the most clearances at 7, and Bressan along with John Nelson were tied at 3 with most shots blocked. One critique that I do have is how deep FCD was playing. It might have been better for the backline to have been higher up in the field as playing so deep allowed LAFC to sit deep in the Dallas third. It also meant that FCD had a longer way to go up the field to create a serious attacking threat. Additionally, FCD could’ve opted to play an offsides trap and it might’ve worked as if one defends was a step higher up, there would’ve been a high number of offsides. Though, FCD decided not to take the risks of leaving the LAFC players in space and in one-on-one situations with Jesse Gonzalez.
FC Dallas came out wanting to make a statement for themselves and they did. Luchi Gonzalez went with another formation switch and paid homage to Oscar Pareja by playing the 4-2-3-1. Interestingly enough, FCD played a Pareja style game and was very free-flowing playing a pseudo-man marking style and attacking on the counter. This method worked as Badji run up the left side of the field and played a ground cross to Pablo Aranguiz though the play was called offsides. The exact same play was made moments later, and Ryan Hollingshead was there to score off a Badji assist. In the last minutes of the half, Carlos Vela went down in the box and after much discussion between the players and ref, the penalty was taken, and Toyota Stadium erupted in a joyous cheer as Jesse Gonzalez made a spectacular penalty save.
The second half had much more to offer as LAFC wasn’t wanting to leave without any points. Early in the half, Matt Hedges fouled Carlos Vela outside of the box and subsequently was red carded. The team shifted into a 4-4-1 with Ryan Hollingshead playing as left back before Pablo Aranguiz was substituted for John Nelson. Zdenek Ondrasek later came in for Dom Badji who obtained a back injury. LAFC pulled a goal back from a penalty after a handball call on Bressan. Bryan Reynolds made his FC Dallas debut as he came in for Jesus Ferreira.
Thoughts and Takeaways
There was a different mood with FC Dallas in this game. Whether or not it had to do with Oscar Pareja being back into town and scarfing the Lamar Hunt statue, the team look livelier. In past games, FCD have looked rather sluggish but in this series against LAFC, that has not been that case. Results aside, the team has made improvements when it comes to playing more as a unit and have a nice flow about the team.
LAFC came out pressing FCD again but they looked more comfortable being under pressure and their spacing amongst the midfield and attack was tighter. This allowed FCD to move the ball up the field with a higher rate of success without risking a turnover due to the LAFC press. It isn’t ideal when you go down a man early in the second half but FCD responded well and were tactically disciplined. It was interesting the setup that Luchi opted for after FCD went down a man.
By bringing in Cobra, this allowed FCD to have two places to release the ball up.
“Cobra is a piece that can be important in hold up and when we maybe need to skip the midfield and find a reference around the oppositions center backs. It was to have Jesus play on the right and underneath and to help with the opportunities going forward.” – Luchi Gonzalez
Tough series overall for FC Dallas but they are making progress game by game. Again, we would all love to have the results fall in favor for FC Dallas but the project that is underway is well worth waiting for.
Featured Image: FC Dallas