In their thirty-first match of the season, FC Dallas traveled to CenturyLink Field and got a result in Seattle for the first time in the regular season since 2011. This result also allowed FC Dallas to get above the playoff line again, after falling below it after a 4-0 loss to Chicago on Saturday this weekend.

The Game

FC Dallas came out of the gate pushing the Seattle backline hard, using Barrios’s speed to make the two center backs uncomfortable throughout the entirety of the game. This lead to constant fouls from those center backs on the Colombian speedster, as Kim Kee-Hee ended the match with 3 fouls and Xavier Arriaga ended the match with 3 fouls as well.

After the initial fifteen-minute surge, FC Dallas ended up falling into a defensive shape most of the match. The team did a lot better in this match than they did in Chicago, as Seattle had only one shot on target for the first 80 minutes of the game.

Seattle came out more aggressive in the second half, pushing FC Dallas’ defensive line farther back as the half-developed. This led to multiple close opportunities for the Sounders, but the Dallas defense was quick to extinguish any fires. This came at a cost on the attacking side of the ball, with FC Dallas only taking two shots for the first 35 minutes of the second half.

Xavier Arreaga, already on a yellow due to a foul on Michael Barrios in the first half, was bested again by the speedster. The Seattle Sounders Designated Player took down the Colombian in the 85th minute after Barrios dribbled around the center back. This was deemed a second yellow card by referee Drew Fischer, and Arreaga was ejected from the match.

The end of the match went back and forth, as both sides had decent opportunities to create goalscoring chances, but none of them really came to fruition. The match ended 0-0.

Thoughts & Takeaways

Formation & Setup

After multiple games with the same successful setup, FC Dallas entered the game against the Chicago in the same setup with the exception of Cerrillo and Pomykal in the midfield instead of Servania and the then-suspended Bryan Acosta. Safe to say the setup did not work, as FC Dallas were constantly lethargic in their reaction on and off the ball defensively and offensively.

Coming off a short break, the team had their second away game in a row in CenturyLink Field, a place where FC Dallas haven’t picked up points since 2011. Coming off short rest, it was expected that Luchi was going to make some changes.

He did just that.

Acosta and Servania joined the side again, which obviously helped the team in the midfield, but this was the first time this season that Luchi placed Barrios up top at striker, something we haven’t seen since Oscar Pareja.

It turns out that Luchi was taking a page out of Papi’s playbook. Pareja was known for his desire to bunker defensively and to counter with speed. In some matches in the last two years, Oscar would use Barrios to stretch the backline, beating them with pace on the ball and creating gaps in the middle of the field off the ball.

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Both field maps above show the purpose of Barrios’ positioning. When the ball was received by one of the midfielders, Barrios made a darting run on the left side of the field, pulling Kim Kee-Hee with him. This created space for Pomykal, who drifted into the space left by the South Korean. This situation also allowed for other players to drift inside, specifically Badji, who was used countless times as the striker in the box when Barrios had drifted to the left.

When done correctly, this can lead to a game like the one FC Dallas had against Sporting Kansas City in Children’s Mercy Park last year in July, where FC Dallas left with a 3-2 victory. Barrios continuously got in behind the defense, which leads to a hattrick that lifted Dallas above SKC.

This didn’t happen yesterday: the team wasn’t really able to create a multitude of opportunities. But Barrios’s movement did cause trouble for the backline, shown by the 6 fouls that the two center backs committed on the speedster and by the red card that Arreaga received at the end of the match after taking down Barrios while already on a yellow.

Luchi came up with a system that increased FC Dallas’ odds of winning while also taking into account the tired legs that existed throughout his squad. Neither team truly dominated, but FC Dallas did show their versatility within Luchi’s system, which could come in handy if the boys get into the playoffs.

The Midfield

I already touched upon the return of Servania and Acosta, but it can’t be stressed enough how important their return was in order for the team to grind out the point.

Acosta and Servania were both coming back from international duty last week, which was true for many in the starting eleven on Saturday. However, Acosta was suspended due to yellow card accumulation, and Cerrillo proved at the beginning of the season that he is a capable MLS player, so both midfielders weren’t in the starting eleven against Chicago (although Servania did come in as a sub). This ended up hurting the team in a very big way, as FC Dallas lost 4-0.

Both players have become instrumental in replacing the skill set that Carlos Gruezo had. Gruezo was known as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league and had acquired a very good passing range by the end of his FC Dallas career.

Acosta and Servania don’t have the Ecuadorian’s exact skill set, but both have shared his responsibilities, as well as added some attacking qualities. Acosta is known for his passing range and his comfort in possession but has also played very well defensively as the season has progressed. Servania covers a lot of ground and is good on the press, but he also is good at pushing the play into the attack.

These skill sets were sorely missed in Bridgeview this weekend. FC Dallas wasn’t able to generate a lot of attack against Chicago and were very poor defensively. Neither was true last night in Seattle. FC Dallas was able to keep Seattle from creating good opportunities but also was very good at pushing the ball forward and creating decent chances.

Both have become instrumental cogs in Luchi’s system, and their performances and availability will dictate the rest of the season for FC Dallas

FC Dallas have three games to go in the season, and all of them fall on weekends. The club will face off first against NYCFC on Sunday, September 22nd, at 5pm.

Featured Image: Seattle Sounders
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