FC Dallas is currently below the playoff line as they reach the end of the first slew of matches of the regular season.
The inconsistency that the team has shown over the last couple of matches has made these last two matches critical for the club.

There are a couple of things the club can do to make sure they win all six points in the following matches against Houston and Colorado respectively.

Stop Playing 3 at the Back

Due to Matt Hedges’ apparent head injury in the last match against Sporting KC, the team lost their most talented defender ahead of last night’s match against Minnesota. However, even with the injury of this important starter, Luchi still decided that it was best to play 3 at the back last night, with Ryan Hollingshead playing the middle Center Back.

And honestly, it’s the worst tactical decision I’ve seen Luchi make in his entire, albeit short coaching career.

Luchi fixed this mistake quickly, but for me, that wasn’t the main problem. FC Dallas is now 0-2-1 in all matches that they’ve started with a 3/5 man backline. This formation change doesn’t work for this team for one main reason.

First off, in the regular 4-3-3 that Luchi employs, the attacking midfielder is always the first line of defense after the forward press. The pressure from the attacking mid relieves pressure on the two defensive midfielders and adds numbers behind the ball.

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This is Jesus Ferreira and Brandon Servania’s heat map in the first match we had with Minnesota a couple of weeks back. That was a match were Luchi employed a 4-3-3, and both Ferreira and Servania played the Attacking Midfielder role throughout the entirety of the match. Although it doesn’t seem like much, their presence in the midfield makes breaking through the middle of the pitch more difficult for opposing players. In the 5-2-3 that was played last night, that disappears.

This formation allowed Emmanuel Reynoso, a 5.5 million dollar player from Boca Juniors, to run through the Dallas midfield, that eventually led to the second goal, and continued to occur until Adrian Heath subbed out the designated player at the latter end of the second half.

The remedy? Simply play a 4-3-3, something that the players are comfortable with. It makes more sense even now when Hedges in injured because last night showed that Hollingshead can’t play that position, and Nkosi Burgess is too inexperienced. If Luchi attempts what he tried last night against a quick and potent team like Houston, it will be a bloodbath.

Continue to Give Us Pepi

The fact that Pepi is the joined top goalscorer on the team says something about the talent this kid has, no matter how scrappy his goals have been.

Pepi at left wing is one of the few tactical decisions that have made sense this year, in my opinion. He plays as a left-winger during the buildup, but as soon as a cross comes in from one of the fullbacks or Michael Barrios, he becomes a second striker alongside Jara.

He works this play so well it is exactly how he scored his two goals this year.

Pepi would be way more successful if he had an attack-minded wingback behind to supply overlaps, which goes back to my point of returning Hollingshead to his natural position. Nelson is a beast, as he showed against Sporting KC, but he is still too tentative and shy in providing an attacking threat, which makes sense considering he doesn’t have the speed to match most of the wingers in the league.

Hollingshead does, however, and his pairing with Pepi on that side is something we haven’t seen enough, and we should since it makes perfect sense.

Potency Up Top

I like Jara a lot. I think, given a little motivation, he could start banging goals. But he does not have that motivation right now, which is shown in how he has played over the past couple of days.

One of the first things that comes to mind is that opportunity last night that just fell on his lap after the ball kinda scrambled around in the box. Instead of taking it the first time, Jara fakes it not once, not twice, but three times, eventually cutting off his angle towards goal and ruining the golden opportunity he had to level the match prior to halftime. Moments like these, coupled with the two occurrences in the last two matches where he would lose the ball and just start walking has begun to make fans pretty pissed off.

Now, Cobra was apparently unavailable due to personal reasons. It could simply be a personal matter, or it could be a replay of Anton Nedyalkov from over a year ago, which kind of makes sense considering an under-performing summer acquisition has already replaced him in the starting lineup. Whatever the case is, and whoever ends up playing up top on Saturday and Wednesday, they need to be potent.

FC Dallas was ahead last night on Expected Goals, which means that the game could have been a victory if not for poor finishing (sound familiar?).

What else would you have included on the list? There were a couple of players that I think deserve a starting spot for the foreseeable future (Ricaurte, Tessmann).
Do you agree with the list?

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