FC Dallas traveled down to Fort Lauderdale and came away with a 1-0 victory to pick up their first three points on the road of 2023. This week, we’ll look at three takeaways from the Burn’s win.

1) 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 going forward?

For the second time in 2023, Nico Estevez elected to start his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation instead of his typically preferred 4-3-3. Unlike the first instance against LAFC however, the Burn were able to start new signing Jesus Jimenez at striker, allowing Jesus Ferreira to play as a second striker underneath Jimenez. Also unlike the previous game against LAFC, Paxton Pomykal was able to start, partnering Facundo Quignon in midfield. We didn’t get to see a whole lot of the 4-2-3-1 in action against LAFC with the first half red card forcing FCD to switch things up.

We got a very good look at it against Inter Miami on Saturday and early returns are very positive. Dallas smashed their way into season highs in both shots and shots on target, scoring a 27th minute goal that saw all three Jesus’s link up (many are calling this trio the “Holy Trinity”). With better finishing, Dallas could have easily been up 3-0 at halftime (Miami coach Phil Neville said as much after the game). Jimenez isn’t quite 90 minutes fit, so FCD did spend a little bit of time in the 4-3-3 when Sebastian Lletget came into the game in the second half, but Ferreira’s injury forced FCD into more changes and they closed the game in something more like a 5-4-1, which seems like a trend for the Burn early this season when trying to close out games.

The question here becomes what is FCD’s best formation moving forward. Ferreira and Jimenez look to have some real chemistry up top and it is hard to argue that Jimenez isn’t talented enough to be starting for this team, but the team has also spent over a year building around the 4-3-3 and the formation forces one of the bigger name and bigger salary players in Sebastian Lletget to the bench. It will be very interesting to see how Estevez and his staff approach this problem in the coming weeks. At the very least, it will be fantastic to have more flexibility in team shape moving forward.

2) Still some issues with attacking depth

As mentioned above, Jesus Jimenez is not quite 90 minutes fit and he was substituted off around the 60 minute mark, shifting FCD into their more familiar 4-3-3 with Jesus Ferreira leading the line. No problem, right? Well, Ferreira pulled up with an injury just a few minutes later, forcing FCD into a tricky situation as they did not have a nominal striker left on the bench with Jose Mulato left back in Dallas to prepare to play with North Texas SC. This forced FCD into going into their hyper defensive 5-4-1 shape earlier than they probably would have liked and placed Jader Obrian into the number 9 position to play up top. Obrian is always full of running and energy and, to his credit, he did actually create a decent chance that Alan Velasco probably should have done better with, but he’s just not the player you want to be playing 20+ minutes as a striker when trying to close out a 1-0 lead. It will come as no surprise that FCD really came under a lot of pressure from Miami as the second half wore on as they simply didn’t have the quality leading the line to get out of their own half on a number of occasions.

Hopefully, this issue will mostly resolve itself as Jimenez works into full fitness and is able to go longer than 60 minutes but if any of the starting attacking options have an injury that forces them out of a number of games, Estevez and his staff will be dealing with a tricky situation as there just isn’t a ton of quality attacking depth on the team at this moment in time.

3) Awesome away support

Frisco and Fort Lauderdale are roughly 1300 miles apart but that didn’t stop about 40 of El Matador’s finest from showing up and showing out in Florida for FCD’s first ever trip down to southern Florida to play Inter Miami. EM has played a big part in the overall surge in interest in FCD and atmosphere at Toyota Stadium and it was awesome to see so many away fans make the long trip down to Fort Lauderdale for the game. Miami fans are no slouches themselves when it comes to bringing the noise but EM were audible on the broadcast on multiple occasions.

EM, along with the Miami supporters groups and the FCD and Miami front offices also deserve a lot of credit for helping to get things organized here. EM were the first away fans to be allowed to bring instruments to DRV PNK Stadium and the FCD front office helped EM get some drums and instruments out to Florida to take the load off the supporters. This is exactly the kind of thing that would be awesome to see across the league moving forward. Away support is truly something unique to the sport and, unfortunately, due to the logistical and geographic challenges of North America, large groups of away supporters are rare, so it is great to see the powers that be helping make something like this happen.

And a final shout out to the FCD players and staff for coming out post game to greet and thank the fans. That kind of stuff always means a lot to fans, especially to some of the younger fans who made the trip. These are the kinds of things that create fans for life and will have more and more people embody the FCD slogan of Dallas Til I Die and El Matador’s Siempre Contigo.

What are your thoughts following FCD’s first away win of 2023? Let me know in the comments below!

Featured Image: EL Matador on Twitter
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