It was only a matter of time before FC Dallas had its first rain-delayed game of the season. FC Dallas fans had to wait 99 minutes before the ball was kicked off.
Luchi Gonzalez looked to end the winless streak as FC Dallas went on to win 2-1 after putting on a strong performance.
Once the game was underway, you could tell that the players were anxious to play. Both teams came out with a high tempo and played ambitious passes but both teams quickly settled into the game. Luchi Ball appeared to make its comeback as play on and off the ball was much more fluid. Seattle opened the scoring with an own goal. Michael Barrios played in a cross from the left of the field to Ryan Hollingshead who headed the ball towards goal. Xavier Arreaga was kind enough to head the ball into his own net to put FC Dallas on the board. 6 minutes later Bryan Acosta, off a set piece, played a short ball to Barrios down the left side of the field which resulted in Barrios firing in a cross into the box where Brad Smith put the ball back into his own net. FC Dallas went into halftime with a 2-0 lead.
FC Dallas started the second half sitting back and trying to frustrate the Seattle attack. FC Dallas did defend well but Luchi Gonzalez wanted his team to move up the field when the ball was cleared. The Sounders would make multiple attempts and Rudiaz put Seattle on the board as his shot took a deflection off of Matt Hedges’ boot. After Seattle’s goal, FCD aimed to control the match not wanting to let “the most dangerous score in soccer” come and take away a possible win. FC Dallas was the more threatening team in the second half as the game finished 2-1 ending the 6-game winless streak.
“We don’t believe in streaks. It’s game to game. Training to training. Day to day. Bringing our best, learning from yesterday and being the best, we can today.” – Luchi Gonzalez
Thoughts & Takeaways
What is the biggest takeaway from this game? Luchi Ball is back. While the stats aren’t quite up to what Luchi Ball has shown in the past (459 passes, 643 touches, 47.8% possession, and 18 crosses), the style and fluidity of the team were. In Vancouver, FC Dallas showed a lot more verticality that it had in previous games but that wasn’t quite the case this game. The Sounders opted for a more conservative press than what Vancouver deployed and defended in their half in a mid-block. Seattle would begin to press once the ball reached the Dallas backline and when Seattle had the numbers to do so. This afforded FCD some time to build the ball out of the back as we have seen throughout the season.
FC Dallas was also able to play quick passes with each player from the defense to the attack (rondo-ing up the field). Pass along the backline and move the ball up the field with your two holding midfielders (Gruezo and Acosta) who will try to move the ball up the field. If there is no direct option forward, then cycle it back and restart. There was a healthy number of crosses and passing as pass accuracy came in at 84%.
With the crosses, came missed opportunities. Ironically enough, both goals for Dallas came off a Michael Barrios cross that ended with Seattle players putting the ball into the back of their own net. FC Dallas outshot the Sounders 14 to 7. Of those 14 shots, 9 were off target, 4 were blocked and 1 was on target. The 10 of those shots were outside of the box and 4 were inside the penalty area. Shot efficiency (7.1%) wasn’t a strong point and something that could be improved upon.
Another headscratcher was some of the passing choices in the final third to players would be wide open or in a better attacking position.
In this sequence, Barrios picks up the ball on the right side of the field and has the option of passing up to Jesus who is in between both Seattle center backs. Passing to Jesus might not be the best option because he could quickly be covered by the center backs. Barrios chooses to pass to Acosta who has Badji open on the left side. Acosta opts for the shot that goes deep into the beer garden. This was just one of many missed passing options that were prevalent throughout the game.
The second half of the game was much better for FC Dallas that was the first half. FC Dallas really favored attacking along the flanks during the first half and had limited play up through the middle. This made defending against Dallas much easier as the Sounders had to force FCD closer to the touchline. In the second half, FC Dallas balanced attacking from all sides of the field.
“After they scored, the boys dug in and they were better defensively because I don’t think we gave them (Seattle) a clear chance after they scored. I think that we created more, and I think that we could’ve put the game away in terms of some transitions and counters, but I think they responded well.” – Luchi Gonzalez
FC Dallas came out in the second half much more defensive minded as the Sounders were looking to grab a goal of their own (a goal that would result in a point on their side of the scoreboard, that is). After being scored on, Luchi and his men looked to control the match once more and not give Seattle any chance to steal the points away from them. They did this by trying to create attacking opportunities of their own and controlling the ball. They were quick on transitioning both from attack to defense.
It was a game with many positives, as previous games have displayed, for FC Dallas. The winless streak is over, and the team appears to be “back”. It’s still important to be patient with this team and still wait for all the pieces to come together. As Luchi said, they are taking this game by game and it’s a work in progress.
FC Dallas takes on the San Jose Earthquakes on the road where the previous meeting resulted in a 0-0 draw at Toyota Stadium. The game can be viewed on June 8, 2:30 PM, on Univision.
Featured Image: FC Dallas