FC Dallas has come upon their final matches of the 2019 season. Los Toros are in the thick of the playoff race as not many points separate teams who are above the cutoff line to those below.
How do things look for FC Dallas as they look to enter the playoffs for the first time under new head coach Luchi Gonzalez?
Let’s dive in.
at Seattle Sounders
What a result the Seattle Sounders game for FC Dallas was. After coming off a disappointing 0-4 loss to the Chicago Fire, and playing in their second game in nine days, FC Dallas returned to Dallas with 1-point from a scoreless draw. Many FC Dallas fans know that playing against Seattle can be a bit stressful given the number of playoff matches and the unfavorable record Dallas has in Seattle. Luchi Gonzalez and his team earned points in Seattle for the first time since 2011 in an MLS game which saw FC Dallas return into a playoff position at 7th place in the Western Conference.
There were a few changes to the lineup with Bressan giving Reggie Cannon a rest at right-back, Paxton Pomykal played on the left-wing, and Dominique Badji was the central striker over Zdenek Ondrasek. The style of play also was tweaked to limit the success that Seattle could have offensively. FC Dallas adopted to be defensive and counter-attack into space utilizing the speed of Badji and Barrios along the attack with Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira being the creative forces in the advanced midfield. Bryan Acosta and Brandon Servania anchored the midfield and helped dictate the tempo of the game.
As mentioned in the previous edition in this article series, this match was going to be hard one given the quick succession of games, playing in Seattle, and unfavorable record on the road against the Sounders, and the change of play surface. Luchi Gonzalez and his men got the game-plan and tactics down in this match and even looked to be the more threatening team at times. Also, MLS finally has taken notice that Luchi Gonzalez is the best-dressed head coach in the league.
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— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 19, 2019
The way the team fought out for a result throughout the 100+ minutes of the match is the type of performance and concentration that teams look to obtain and refine in the last few games of the season. Much of what has arguably held FC Dallas back is the intangibles: concentration, response in-game, and discipline to name a few. Many of these intangibles are what can be classified as “mental attributes” and these mental attributes have been one of the most improved characteristics of this team, of Luchi Gonzalez, and his staff. These finer details have hindered from FC Dallas taking full control of matches rather than being outplayed by their opposition.
With FC Dallas having displayed a focused game-plan, this game can only have built their confidence in taking on quality opposition and given them the knowledge and experience to grind out results (much like the Vancouver match).
vs. New York City FC (Sunday 9/22 @ 5:00 PM | UniMas, TUDN, & Twitter)
The draw on the road allows FC Dallas to focus on performing their best against their toughest competition in the remainder of the season. FC Dallas has faced NYCFC four times over four seasons. When FC Dallas is at home, they have a 1-1-0 (W-D-L) record against the team that is known for playing at Yankee Stadium. Overall matches, FC Dallas has a 1-2-1 record. Matches against NYCFC has been closely contested matches that have featured on average 3.25 goals per game. At Toyota Stadium, 2.5 goals have been scored.
Luchi Gonzalez and his team will have to be very disciplined against a New York team that is unbeaten in the last 7 games (6 wins and 1 draw) and has scored 15 goals and conceded 6 goals in that span of games.
“They do have important players, but they aren’t like the stars such as those on other teams, but they have a philosophy and a style of play that is totally different and welcome to everyone that loves this sport,” San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda was quoted saying about New York City FC.
It’s going to be a tough and grueling match and FC Dallas will have to balance going forward while limiting the chances of NYCFC going forward. If the offense can play a fluid game with the midfield and the backline limit errors, FC Dallas has a serious chance to give NYCFC a hard time. It is a matter of FC Dallas finding their rhythm to get things going and FC Dallas can be one of the more dangerous teams when they are a playing a fluid game.
at Colorado Rapids (Sunday 9/29 @ 6:30 PM)
FC Dallas will travel to Denver Colorado to take on the Colorado Rapids a mile above sea level. The Rapids themselves have found some recent success as they are 3-0-2 in their last five games. In terms of gaining a result, FC Dallas last came away with points in 2017 on October 7th that resulted in a 1-1 draw. The last time FC Dallas won a game in Denver happened in 2014 on October 18th that finished 1-0 for Los Toros. FC Dallas is 1-0-7 against the Rapids in the month of September in MLS League matches.
FC Dallas cannot afford to be giving away points in their last games of the season. This is a game, on paper, FC Dallas should win. While the momentum that the Rapids have built up can be a problem, it is going to come down to whether FC Dallas is able to execute a game-plan that can see them gather at least a point in this matchup. This match can dictate how much of an impact Decision Day will have for FC Dallas (pending results around MLS).
Win and you continue to build up the momentum for the final push and demonstrate to fans and other teams that you can get the result and job done in games where you are expected to win.
Draw and you’re still not entirely out but help from around the league won’t hurt and requires you to get the job done at home against Kansas City. Lose and it looks like it all comes down to Decision Day if you want to extend your season into late October.
Featured Image: FC Dallas