It was a poor outing for the Burn in the Big Apple over the weekend, but it wasn’t a complete disaster.

This week we’ll try to stay positive and look at what went right for FC Dallas and what they can build on moving forward.

1) Chance creation

It probably isn’t exactly accurate to say that Dallas were prolific in their chance creation, but they also didn’t struggle to create opportunities going forward. Since Nico Estevez took over, FCD has been a typically low overall chance creation team. They don’t rack up a high number of shots or shots on target but when they do get those opportunities, they tend to be high percentage and high xG generating chances.

This trend has persisted into 2023, especially at home, where FCD have typically barely cracked double digits in overall shots and rarely done so with shots on target. So, to see FCD go to a notoriously tough place to play against a quality opponent and pick up 16 total shots with 8 on target is something encouraging to see. This feels like a trend in away games this year where the reins have been loosened compared to 2022, where Dallas typically went on the road and looked to completely stifle the game, choking the life out of it for both sides for the majority of the game to limit chances on either end.

Clearly, this has a knock on effect on the defensive end of the field, where Dallas has had a hard time replicating what they were able to do in 2022, but it is nice to see that, even without their best two attackers in Alan Velasco and Jesus Ferreira (for most of the game at least), Dallas was able to generate a number of quality chances. Finishing, as usual, is still a concern, but Dallas will trust that if they can continue to generate these chances, the goals will come.

2) Nkosi Tafari

It may seem weird to highlight a defender after a game in which the Burn conceded 3 goals in a loss, but the New York native had a strong game in his return to the lineup after a week off against RSL. He continued a season long trend of being the best defender on the team and staked yet another claim to be written in ink in the starting lineup moving forward. He was not at fault for any of the 3 goals FCD conceded (or the one they conceded that was ruled out by VAR). 78% passing isn’t great, though 7 of his 9 missed passes were on long balls, indicating that he was at least attempting to play forward and probe the NYC backline. He also created one of FCD’s best chances of the firs half, firing a pass in that Facundo Quignon was unlucky to have not scored.

He was his typical solid self defensively, winning almost all of his duels while having a number of important defensive interventions. He did have one poor mistake at the back but, as he’s shown throughout his career, he has the recovery pace to make up for his own mistake and eliminate the danger. Here’s to hoping Tafari remains a part of the starting lineup moving forward and FCD looks to build around him in defense.

3) Time for some depth players

To this point in the season, FCD has had a group of about 16 players that have dominated the minutes: Maarten Paes, Geovane Jesus, Ema Twumasi, Nkosi Tafari, Jose Martinez, Sebastien Ibeagha, Marco Farfan, Facu Quignon, Edwin Cerrillo, Paxton Pomykal, Sebastian Lletget, Paul Arriola, Jesus Ferreira, Alan Velasco, Jader Obrian and Jesus Jimenez. That group had played just about all the major minutes over the course of the season, with the remainder of the first team squad mostly relegated to the bench or to very brief appearances. So, despite the result, it was good to see players like Bernard Kamungo, Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Sam Junqua get a decent run out after largely being relegated to a small handful of minutes at the ends of games.

The MLS season is long and tiring, injuries are inevitable and, from here moving forward, things are only going to get more hectic, with mid week games starting, US Open Cup coming up and the new Leagues Cup being played. Getting these players, who are inevitably going to get some starts at some point in the season, some real minutes on the pitch is absolutely a good thing. Junqua and Ntsabeleng especially looked impressive, with Ntsabeleng picking up a quality assist on Jose Martinez’s goal and Junqua providing some good play going forward and in defense at left back, which feels particularly notable with the number of minutes and amount of running Marco Farfan has done since joining the club. Look for those two, and Kamungo, to get more minutes in the coming weeks.

How are you feeling after FCD vs NYCFC over the weekend?

Let me know in the comments below!

Featured Image: NYCFC
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