FC Dallas fell 2-0 to Seattle in the first game of round one but can get back into it in less than a week with game two on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. Let’s look at three things from Monday’s match that FC Dallas must improve on if they want to force a decisive game three.
1) Finish big chances
This is so simple and obvious it barely feels worth mentioning but Dallas was presented two huge opportunities in the first half, both of which fell to the feet of Jesus Ferreira and neither of which ended up in the back of the net. Seattle is an extremely good team defensively, you simply are not going to have a ton of opportunities to score on them so when those kinds of chances come up, they have to be taken.
Look at the flip side of things, Dallas are also a very stout team defensively and Seattle didn’t exactly have a ton of opportunities themselves but when Marco Farfan fouled Cristian Roldan to concede a penalty, Albert Rusnak made no mistake from the spot. And in the second half when Jordan Morris finally found a sliver of space between Sebastien Ibeagha and Nkosi Tafari, Nouhou’s cross was inch perfect and Morris’ header left no doubt and the game was done.
Would Dallas have won in Seattle if Ferreira finished the chances or even just one of them? It is impossible to say, but there isn’t a team in MLS that can spurn those kinds of opportunities against the Sounders and hope to come away with anything but a defeat.
2) The leaders of the team need to step up
FC Dallas has an interesting captaincy situation. Paul Arriola is the club captain with Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal designated as co-captains. Unfortunately for Dallas, only one of those three players, Pomykal, played at a level to justify the label of captain on Monday night. Pomykal, for his part, was excellent. His pressure generated both first half chances and he was 7/8 on his duels. His work rate, as always, was excellent and he was up for the physicality that the Sounders brought to the game.
Ferreira and Arriola, on the other hand, were on the opposite side of the spectrum. Ferreira started the game strongly, but shrank from the spotlight, and the role of center forward, after his two first half misses. He seemed to want to be in any other position on the field and put himself into wide spaces and midfield, looking to create for others instead of putting himself in position to score. Dallas, unsurprisingly, had almost no chances the rest of the game. Arriola, for his part, was basically invisible. He only had 24 touches in his 77 minutes on the field with one single pass into the final third. He only won half of his 10 duels and the game largely just passed him by.
It has been noted by a number of outlets how Dallas rarely loses if Jesus Ferreira scores and rarely wins if he doesn’t but when both Ferreira and Arriola, two of the leaders and captains on the team, are both playing poorly, Dallas has basically no chance to win games, especially up against a top team like Seattle. If the Burn hope to stay alive on Saturday night, Ferreira and Arriola will need to elevate their performances significantly.
3) Be the protagonists
Despite some early pressure from the Burn on Monday night, the game always felt like it was ultimately in Seattle’s control. Seattle dictated the pace of play, controlled possession and Dallas was forced to play on their terms. That is understandable with Seattle playing at home and being the higher seeded team. Dallas has to flip that script on Saturday night. That doesn’t mean they need to dominate possession in the same way but Dallas should not be reacting to how Seattle approaches the game, they need to be the ones imposing themselves on the visiting Sounders and forcing Seattle to adjust to what they are doing. They need to be the ones putting pressure on Stefan Frei’s goal and forcing Seattle defenders into tough situations. They don’t need to abandon they ways they like to play or abandon their defensive mindset, it is far too late in the season to make those kinds of changes, but if the Burn want to force a decisive third game, they need to play like they’re the second seed on Saturday.
Will FC Dallas win game 2 to force a third game in Seattle or will the Burn’s playoff run come to an early end? Let me know how you’re feeling in the comments below!
Featured Image: Lindsey Wasson/AP