FC Dallas picked up their third straight home win against the Rapids over the weekend. This week, I’ll look at three takeaways from the 3-1 win.
1) Tactical flexibility
To put it simply, FC Dallas was utterly dominated in the first half by the Rapids. The Rapids massively outpossessed FCD, 63-37, racked up 7 shots, scored a lovely goal and generally were causing the FCD defense fits. On top of that, FCD was barely even able to get out of their own half, regularly turning the ball over in bad positions and allowing the Rapids big opportunities. In truth, the Rapids probably should have had 2 or 3 goals before the break.
But everything changed in first half stoppage time when a free kick about 40 yards from goal was taken short to Alan Velasco, who then elected to play a sideways pass to Brandon Servania instead of playing the ball into the box. Servania then unleashed a dipping, serving shot from 40 yards that evaded the reach of Rapids keeper William Yarborough and slammed into the back of the net. 1-1. It was FCD’s only shot of the entire first half.
Coming out of halftime, FCD made two major changes. First, they were forced to substitute Matt Hedges for Nkosi Tafari due to an as of yet undisclosed injury for Hedges (Hedges was walking around on the field after the game and did not appear to be in any major discomfort nor was he wearing any kind of bracing or ice bags, so fingers crossed it was largely precautionary to sub him out). Second, Nico Estevez elected to, at least defensively, match Colorado’s 3-4-3 formation by dropping Edwin Cerrillo in between the center backs, pushing Tafari and Jose Martinez wider. In truth, the defensive shape was often as much a 5-2-3 as a 3-4-3, with Nanu (and later Ema Twuasmi) and Marco Farfan often being forced back into the defensive line as well. The Rapids continued to dominate possession, the game ended with the Rapids having a 65-35 advantage on that front, but they were no longer carving out massive chances with the same kind of regularity that was seen in the first half. Michael Barrios, who was a constant first half threat, was able to do little in the second half and second half substitute Jonathan Lewis was able to contribute very little. FCD were clinical in their finishing, the Rapids were not in their limited second half chances and FCD was able to come away with the win even though they were largely second best in the game. It was great to see this kind of tactical flexibility from Estevez and his team, especially after recent seasons often saw FCD make these kinds of tactical adjustments too late in games to make a real difference.
2) Servania continues to ball out
What a season Brandon Servania has had. Perhaps no one through these first six games deserved to score that 40 yard banger more than Servania, who has put in tireless hard work throughout the season. Nico Estevez’s system asks a lot out of the central midfielders and Servania has played more minutes than either of his fellow homegrowns in the middle and has the most impressive stat line of the three with a goal and a team leading three assists thus far. To be clear, all three players in the middle have been excellent thus far and I’d be remiss to not mention just how good Paxton Pomykal and Edwin Cerrillo have been, but Servania has been the stand out. His ability and willingness to drive forward with the ball and play the more risky passes has been vital for the team going forward and it isn’t surprising that he is currently leading the team in assists. He has a swagger about his game that complements the workmanlike energy and hustle of Pomykal and the steady presence of Cerrillo very well and Nico Estevez clearly has these three working in tandem very well. Servania’s defensive work rate has also been fantastic, he has regularly been able to get into great defensive positions to cover in tough situations and uses his size and physicality well in the middle without risking needless cards or fouls. The assumption in the early season has been that Paxton Pomykal might be able to play his way into the USMNT picture ahead of the World Cup, but if Servania keeps up his play, he may be the FCD midfielder that is looking at an opportunity to go to Qatar.
3) Jesus Ferreira is a 9
One of the big narratives going into this season was whether or not Jesus Ferreira could play as a 9. “He’s really more of a 10”, “he’s not a proper number 9”, “he doesn’t get into good positions”, etc, etc. Somehow these narratives, many of which come from the unending USMNT striker debates, have persisted well into the season. I have to say that I’m pretty sick of it and I have no idea what Jesus needs to do at this point to prove that he is indeed capable of playing as a 9. He is now at 5 goals on the season, joint highest in the league, he has shown an ability to score from getting into dangerous positions in the box as well as taking shots from outside the box, all while still being able to drop deep on occasion and link up with his teammates in the build up. I’m not sure if people just want him to constantly stay on the center backs’ shoulders the entire game to “prove” that he is a 9 or only score goals within the 6 yard box but I hope we can all put this narrative to rest soon. Jesus still has work to do and he certainly still has moments where he does drop too deep and needs to get into better positions, but I’m confident that will come with more and more time actually playing as a 9 after multiple years of being asked to play as a 10 by Luchi Gonzalez. The only real question I have is how quickly he’ll reach double digit goals for the season. If he can keep up his form throughout the season, he’ll be looking at a potential starting role in Qatar.
How are you feeling after Saturday’s win over Colorado? What are your thoughts ahead of next weekend’s matchup against the Red Bulls? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Juan Figueroa/Dallas Morning News