FC Dallas returned home as it was a battle between the top two teams that play the most homegrown minutes: FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. In the second meeting of the season, FC Dallas desired to grab another 3 points after defeating Sporting Kansas City on the road. FC Dallas, despite their efforts, were not able to overcome Real Salt Lake’s defense as the game was a scoreless affair for both sides.
Paxton Pomykal made his return to the gameday 18 as a substitute. Jesus Ferreira had taken up Pomykal’s position on the top of the midfield triangle. The midfield three of Brandon Servania, Bryan Acosta, and Jesus Ferreira had lots of movement between the players. Real Salt Lake was the more complete team as they out-possessed, out-shot, out-passed, and had more chances created than FC Dallas in the first half. Despite superior numbers of Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas was the more threatening team as they came close to scoring on multiple occasions. The quick exchanges and build-up play did capture the visitors out of position multiple times.
In the second half, FC Dallas came out with the desire to put the ball into the back of the net. The home side was much more spaced out in comparison to the compact Real Salt Lake. Paxton Pomykal made his return to the field as he came in for Brandon Servania. This allowed Jesus Ferreira to continue to contribute to the attack while Pomykal looked to work passes through defenders. Edwin Gyasi came in for Santiago Mosquera as he looked to gain confidence and become even more familiar with playing for FC Dallas during MLS competition. Zdenek Ondrusek, who came in for Dominique Badji, was the final substitute of the match as Los Toros tried to gain 3 more points at home. Even with all the efforts and chances on goal, FC Dallas was not able to come away with a full 3 points at home as the match finished tied, 0-0.
Thoughts & Takeaways
In comparison to Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas had lots of movement off the ball. The midfield players rotated and roamed throughout the field. Jesus Ferreira was present in the field all the way from the defensive third to the attacking third of the field while Reggie Cannon drifted into midfield quite a few times in the game. Ryan Hollingshead not only played as a left-back but as a left midfielder. Santiago Mosquera dropped into the midfield and cut inwards to make his attacks from the center.
FC Dallas was also more spaced than the structured Real Salt Lake formation. This constant movement allowed FC Dallas to occupy more space and therefore keep Real Salt Lake deeper in their own half.
“I think there were so many positives tonight, we killed them, we dominated them,” Cannon stated. “Even though the score was 0-0 and we weren’t able to put the ball in the back of the net, we had plenty of chances. Their chances were half chances. They only had one or clear opportunities, we had 6 or 7, it was very clear for us that we were the dominant team tonight.”
This also allowed for longer passing and made it easier for Dallas to commit numbers to a specific portion of the field. This constant movement has been a development of Luchi Gonzalez’s team as of late in his desire to be the dominant team on the field.
Brandon Servania has made the midfield his own after the departure of Carlos Gruezo and has proven to be a capable partner to Bryan Acosta. Jesus Ferreira, in the time that Paxton Pomykal has been off the field, has taken up the role as the “free 8” on top of the midfield triangle. Servania had more of a defensive role in this match than he has had in previous matches. He had 3 tackles attempted 1 clearance, 2 aerial duels. Despite having an average position lower than Bryan Acosta, Servania made his presence known all over the field. Servania isn’t quite the defensive midfielder that Gruezo was for FC Dallas but he does provide defensive assurance in the midfield while also helping move the ball forward up in the attack.
Bryan Acosta had more of an offensive game as he totaled 61 passes, 72 touches (the most of any non-defensive player), and 5 shots. Jesus Ferreira had a busy evening as not only was he tasked with creating attacking options, he found himself all over the field. Ferreira has been tasked for the last couple of game during Paxton’s departure to be a serious attacking option. While he is best suited as a striker, Ferreira has displayed versatility in his time out of position.
The Final Third
It was the theme of the evening as neither team was able to open the scoring. The Dallas defense is getting more and more complete with each passing game as they face different tests from different teams. For this match, the defense was instrumental in preserving the clean sheet. The midfield has come together throughout the season and has proven to be helpful in the defense and in the attack due to due to the versatility of the players.
“And then, around the box, we had more crosses than them but, they had more shots on target,” Gonzalez told the media. “That tells me we need to work on efficiency, creating the shot for a teammate, for yourself. We need shots, we need shots on target. If we don’t shoot, we can’t score and then, following that shot, following the rebound.”
While the attack has produced goals throughout the year, it isn’t at the level that fans are hoping for. Against Real Salt Lake, it appeared that there was one too many passes or one too many touches that plagued Dallas from scoring. It hasn’t been easy for the front line though with the most consistent player making appearances game after game is Michael Barrios. Dominique Badji and Jesus Ferreira have both had time at the striker position and a player is still looking to making the left-wing their own. Unlocking the final third enigma is the last thing that could take this team from being around the “red line” (that isn’t red anymore) in conference standings to a higher seed.
It was a tough game to watch due to the absence of goal-scoring but having 4 points over the series against Real Salt Lake is what can be considered a good performance. FC Dallas now sits in 6th place with 33 points, 2 points ahead of the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake and 2 points behind Minnesota United FC. Los Toros now have 11 games left in their season as they look to secure a playoff spot in Luchi Gonzalez’s first year as head coach of FC Dallas.
Featured Image: FC Dallas