FC Dallas headed to Tampa for their last two preseason matches last night. Their first test was against Philadelphia Union on Wednesday morning, and the boys came away with a 3-2 victory
This was the club’s 5th victory this preseason, but their first against an MLS side.

The Game

The match consisted of two 45-minute halves, with limited substitutions.

FC Dallas

Jesse Gonzalez (Jimmy Maurer); Reggie Cannon (Bryan Reynolds), Bressan, Matt Hedges (Nkosi Burgess), Reto Ziegler (Callum Montgomery), Ryan Hollingshead; Thiago Santos (Tanner Tessmann), John Nelson (Edwin Cerrillo), Jesus Ferreira (Ema Twumasi); Fafa Picault (Santiago Mosquera), Ricardo Pepi (Zdenek Ondrasek)

Philadelphia Union

Joe Bendik; Raymon Gaddis (Oliver Mbaizo), Zack Elliot (Cole Turner), Mark McKenzie (Aurelien Collin), Matt Real (Jack De Vries); Jose Martinez, Alejandro Bedoya (Warren Creavalle), Jamiro Martinez (Matej Oravec), Brendan Aaronson (Anthony Fontana); Kacper Przybylko (Ilsinho), Sergio Santos (Andrew Wooten)

The game consisted mostly of two different styles. While FC Dallas has popularized LuchiBall, which consists of mostly a focus on possession in order to open up channels, the Union were more of a blitz team, pressuring the backline of FC Dallas in order to win the ball higher up the field.

The first and only goal came for the good guys. After both sides exchanged a couple of good looks in front of goal, the deadlock was finally broken by ex-Union player Fafa Picault. Reggie Cannon received the ball a couple of yards from the box, put in a deep cross to Hollingshead, who then proceeded to beat the defender and drive the ball in front of the net where Picault was standing.

Both sides had chances to score more before the half. Around the 20th minute, Hollingshead ran past Raymon Gaddis and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but the left-back was unable to push it past Joe Bendik. However, the highlight of the half was an incredible save from Jesse Gonzalez, who made a spectacular diving save to deny Przybylko, who took a shot on goal with no pressure around him.

The second half started very positively for FC Dallas. At the beginning of the half, after a failed header, Reggie Cannon was able to drive forward with no pressure and pass the ball to Cobra, who was also open, for an easy tap-in.

Cobra got his second a couple of minutes later. After driving at the defender, Fafa Picault was able to get the cross right over Joe Bendik for Cobra to easily finish.

At 3-0, the boys began to fall apart and were taken apart by a pair of goals from Union sub-Ilsinho. The first one came in the 77th minute. After some very poor defense from the 3 centrebacks, a ball was driven at the top of the box to an open Ilsinho, who finessed into the top corner.

The Brazilian’s second goal came just before the end of the game. A very sloppy turnover from one of the FC Dallas subs led to an easy tap-in for Ilsinho in the 88th minute

The game ended 3-2 in favor of FC Dallas.

Thoughts and Takeaways

1) A Great First Shift…

The first half saw some of the best performances from many of the first-teamers who started the match. The first one that is worth mentioning is Fafa Picault. In his first outing with the first team, Picault looked slightly poor last week when the boys faced Dan Antonio FC. He was not able to perform the attacking responsibilities needed in Lucchi’s system as a winger in that game. However, he performed very well in the match on Wednesday morning. As a free-flowing striker in a 5-3-2, Fafa was able to roam in front of the center backs and play the ball around with the midfielders. The second forward also caused a lot of issues for the Philly defense, as seen in the first goal. It might not have to do with the formation, but Fafa really looked at home today.

Another player that played his best match of the preseason was Thiago Santos. The comparisons to Carlos Gruezo from the technical staff was obvious in this game: the Brazilian defensive midfielder was putting out fires that were caused by multiple turnovers that the Philly front three were creating.

Jesse Gonzalez also had a wonderful first half. Ignoring the amazing save that occurred in the 20th minute (shown above), the Homegrown goalkeeper was also instrumental in keeping the Union of the score sheet, with all of the misplaced passes that the outfield players were doing.

John Nelson proved yet again his value to this team. At some points last year, the rookie looked better than Ryan Hollingshead, but injuries and a stellar season from Hollingshead limited the 2019 SuperDraft pick’s minute. Due to injuries this preseason, Nelson has had to play defensive mid a lot, and today, against a really good Philadelphia team, Nelson was good in possession and played well defensively.

The one player that was subbed on that performed well was Zdenek Ondrasek. The Czech international has continued his stellar preseason, with his 5th goal in 5 preseason matches. Many have doubted if Cobra was going to be able to continue his hot streak from the latter half of the 2019 season, but all indicators show that Ondrasek can continue this hot run of form

2) …but a poor second one.

Many of the reserve players subbed on in the second half, and even though Philadelphia did the same thing, FC Dallas played pretty poorly defensively when the starters were removed from the field. It makes sense that this is the case, but this is an indicator that the existence of depth doesn’t make it good depth. The center back trio of Burgess, Bressan, and Montgomery were really poor defensively and in possession, as shown by the Union’s two goals.

FC Dallas will play their last preseason match against Inter Miami CF on Saturday.

Featured Image: Brotherly Game
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