FC Dallas continues its winless streak in a game where the score does not tell the whole story. FCD lost 1-2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps in a closely content match.
FC Dallas came out with a pang of hunger, wanting to end their winless slump. FCD appeared to be the more dominant team as they did well attacking the Whitecaps and forcing them to defend their box. Vancouver was able to hit FCD on the counter in the 30th minute as Ali Adnan opened the scoring for the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps scored again in the 39th minute which put Vancouver in a comfortable position.
The second half was similar to the first: FC Dallas was looking for the goal that would breathe life in the attack. The Vancouver Whitecaps were on their heels for the majority of the half as FCD sent shots well into the stands. Pablo Aranguiz had the best chance as he hit the crossbar. Zdenek Ondrasek, Thomas Roberts, and Bryan Reynolds were tasked in helping turn things in favor of FC Dallas. Bryan Reynolds played a long ball up to Dominique Badji who slotted the ball in to put FCD on the board.
Thoughts and Takeaways
It was the theme of this game and what Luchi Gonzalez worked on in practice. It goes without saying that FC Dallas played with a different style. A hallmark of FCD under Luchi Gonzalez is playing the ball out of the back. Some of the critiques against this style are that the ball is kept along the backline to long and the team plays with lots of widths. Well, that was a different case in this game.
In the first half, there were hints of verticality coming out but there were still quite a few passes going horizontal. In the second half, being down two goals, FCD needed to be more direct and the verticality was even more prevalent. It is a concern that there were a lack of successful passes on top of the box.
“Two goals down early, it’s difficult especially there were moments where we were imposing, and dominating the ball, and controlling the game. We give up goals in these moments, and now we have to climb into the game rather than initiating with meaning.” – Luchi Gonzalez
It may not be a popular view, but FC Dallas has been getting better during the winless streak despite the results. This could not be more of the case than in this game against Vancouver. First the stats:
FC Dallas beat out Vancouver statistically and were the better team on paper. They were more attacking minded and really had the Whitecaps on their heels. Here’s the average positioning of the team:
This is one of the most advanced placements that we have seen of FCD as of late and especially during their winless streak. So, if FC Dallas on paper and on the field were the most advanced team (sorry for the pun), what gives? Well, that is the million-dollar question and one that almost everyone has. It’s also a question that is beyond the scope of this article and a topic for another article.
“The boys responded well in the second half. They took a risk and pushed. We got a nice goal from Badji. Good effort there. I think had we gotten the 2-1 goal earlier, Pablo’s shot hits the post and goes in. We have 30 minutes to score the second or even the third. The 2-1 came late, then we had to have an onslaught to score the 2-2. Credit to Vancouver for how they defended in their box, getting to our crosses, and get things away from the box. Congratulations to them.” – Luchi Gonzalez
The big takeaway here is that the team is making improvements from the style of play and getting the ball up the field. FC Dallas is creating chances, but those chances are not consistently quality chances and they don’t always come at a high frequency. Really, this game was two poor defensive moments that allowed the points to slip away.
It is important to note that FC Dallas was without two key defensive pieces: Matt Hedges (red-card suspension) and Reto Ziegler (groin strain). Ryan Hollingshead was tasked to fill in for the missing Ziegler while Bressan continues to find some quality play time. Changing out 75% of your backline for a game isn’t going to result in the same quality that one is familiar with. There was a defensive disconnect which lead to the two goals that the Whitecaps scored.
While FC Dallas has arguably made improvements in recent games, something that is holding the team back is a disconnect between different pieces of the team. Assuming that the normal backline of Hollingshead, Hedges, Ziegler, and Cannon are playing, it looks like there are different pieces that are playing and not a single unit playing. The defense is playing a different game which is playing a different game from the midfield which is playing a different game from the attack. Whether it be a Pablo Aranguiz pass that goes out of play or straight to the opposition to the ball being played into space where an FC Dallas player has to quickly recover the ball to scrambling defensive play to missed shots and cross, there doesn’t seem to be a connection between all the pieces.
“We have to stay positive you know. We’re going through a rough patch. It goes with every team. Every team this season has its difficulties: injuries, people on an international break but like I said guys got to step up. We’re going to stay positive and this is a group that’s going to keep putting the work so no matter what happens we’re going to stay a family like we are.” – John Nelson
I do think that this is the small but big piece that could help FC Dallas regain its form. It goes without saying that Lucchi, his staff, and the team are trying their hardest to get results but to do it in a convincing fashion. The desire and will of this team to win games and play exciting soccer cannot be questioned.
This team is working hard and it’s evident in practice and it’s evident in games. Matt Hedges took a red card to prevent the most dangerous player in MLS from scoring on the team. Players are getting injured and are eager to come back and for this team.
It’s only a matter of time before this team unlocks the full potential that it has. It’s not easy when you are missing pieces and FC Dallas will be without pieces for a while but it’s an opportunity for players and the coaching staff to seize and grow from and take advantage of.
Featured Image: FC Dallas