DALSportsNation
In FC Dallas’ third to last home match, FC Cincinnati was the guest in Toyota Stadium as this match featured the return of FC Dallas homegrown Victor Ulloa and former FC Dallas winger Roland Lamah.
The weather was cooler than in previous matches making it comfortable for players and fans alike. FC Dallas came away with a 3-1 win that keeps them in the playoff race while FC Cincinnati has been the first team eliminated from the playoff race.

The Game

FC Dallas came out bringing the game to FC Cincinnati and really opened space. Jesus Ferreira controlled the ball and played a quick pass to Zdeněk Ondrášek who laid the ball of to Ryan Hollingshead on the top of the box where his curled shot found the back of the goal to give FC Dallas the first goal of the evening.

FC Dallas continued to play with space and dictate the tempo of play. FC Cincinnati was slower with their buildup play but found a few glimpses at goal to keep FC Dallas on their toes.

FC Dallas came out attacking in the second half not wanting to give FC Cincinnati a chance in the game.

Jesus Ferreira played the ball into space for Michael Barrios to finish the ball past the keeper for the second goal of the game.

Michael Barrios played in a cross from the left side of the box to Zdeněk Ondrášek who headed the ball at the keeper but “The Cobra” finished the rebound for the third goal.

Reggie Cannon brought down a Cincinnati player in the box which resulted in a penalty for the visitors who subsequently scored.

Jesus Ferreira’s night came to an end as he made way for midfielder Paxton Pomykal.

FC Cincinnati player Ketuta Manneh was shown a red card for violent conduct after putting hands to Acosta’s face.

Ricardo Pepi saw 4+ minutes as he came in for Zdeněk Ondrášek and Bressan was Luchi Gonzalez’s final sub of the evening as he came in for Reggie Cannon.


Thoughts & Takeaways

Passing Combos

FC Dallas finished the evening with 549 passes, 88.3% pass accuracy, 62.9% possession, and 14 open play crosses. FC Dallas put on a display that highlighted the recent passing and attacking success that the midfield and attack have had. The passing chains appeared to be more natural than forced. The players looked comfortable playing quick and short passes with each other to move the ball around the field while trying to force the opposition out of position. The speed at which the ball was being played with was of a higher tempo with confidence.

“So, whether it is a build from our own goal, or a press, or a press from the midblock, we want to play with tempo,” Luchi Gonzalez told reporters. “We want to move the ball and we want to have a purpose. We want to have players between lines and find gaps and we need to find them. We can be dangerous with wide play or switches and players reading the spaces and reading the lines. We worked a lot on some fundamental things and patterns, and to do those things and the team has been open and been trying, and they were able to do some positive things in that, in those concepts.”

In previous games when quicker passes where being played, FC Dallas didn’t have much success. It would look like the passes were being forced and that players were hoping that a teammate would be at the end of the ball. The speed of play was either too fast for the other players or too slow which allowed the opposition to set up defensively. The speed and confidence with which the ball was played with against FC Cincinnati is something that Luchi Gonzalez and the players have been working on all season and it appears to be coming together in the final stages.

Playing with Space

It may have been the football lines on the field but it appeared there was more space between FC Dallas players. Here is a comparison between the FC Cincinnati home game and the Houston Dynamo home game.

FCD vs. Cin
FC Dallas positioning vs. FC Cincinnati | Photo: whoscored.com
FCD vs. Houston
FC Dallas positioning vs. Houston Dynamo | Photo: whoscored.com

In terms of FC Dallas player positioning, it doesn’t look like there is a difference in space between players and if anything, the midfield is more congested. This makes sense as the midfield dictated the speed at which the ball was moving around the field. The build-up play was much more fluid throughout this game that it was previously.

The FC Dallas players were more disciplined in maintaining their shape and keeping space throughout the game rather than staying bunched up. Players were constantly moving than just staying place in one area. This constant movement and discipline to maintain shape allowed players to be in a position to play quicker passes that can find space between opposition players (Ferreira’s assisted through ball to Barrios) and allows them to break lines.

The fluidity in FC Dallas’ gameplan also impacted FC Cincinnati as well as the Dynamo.

FC Cincinnati
FC Cincinnati position vs. FC Dallas | Photo: whoscored.com
Houston
Houston Dynamo position vs. FC Dallas | Photo: whoscored.com

Notice that the Dynamo were further up in the field than Cincinnati was at Toyota Stadium. The increased speed of play as well as the fluid nature of FC Dallas’ gameplan forced Cincinnati to defend deeper than Houston did where Dallas was more stagnate in ball movement. These small improvements such as tempo, fluidity, and spacing have resulted in more thorough and complete games for FC Dallas.

Mentality

It’s been a theme of FC Dallas as of late but it is a worthwhile theme and it is the mentality change for FC Dallas. The players are playing with new confidence and energy that wasn’t present for a while. The players continue to look unfazed about being scored on and continue to be proactive rather than reactive in matches.

“We have to always approach it that way, being the best, we have to beat the best,” Luchi Gonzalez stated. “We have to be steady, we can’t get too high or too low, we have to keep our eye on the prize, and now we have two weeks to prepare to go to Chicago and do something special there with another team fighting for the playoffs.”

The staff and players are focused and are enjoying the moments as they happen but are quickly transitioning and focusing on the next game at hand. With five games left in the season and the race in the west becoming more and more heated in the final weeks, each point is going to be crucial for FC Dallas in their playoff hunt.


FC Dallas has 5 games left in MLS play with 2 more home games and has a bye week due to the international break. FC Dallas heads on the road for a two-game road trip to Chicago on Saturday, September 14th and Seattle on Wednesday, September 18th.

Featured Image: MLS
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