Two teams near the top of their respective conferences went head to head at Toyota Stadium on Sunday night as FC Dallas welcomed back club legend Oscar Pareja, now the head coach at Orlando City.
Orlando and Dallas are two clubs with similar systems – which is no surprise given the coaching history – so they were pretty evenly matched on the night. The teams both play the same basic shape and style if Orlando is just a little better at it right this minute.
The Lions had the better of the first half, building a 56% possession advantage and even though the number of shots each way was even it’s fair to say Pareja’s side had the better chances.
“The buildup in the first half was not good enough,” said FC Dallas captain Reto Ziegler. “I will give Orlando credit, they pressed well all game. We played wide and tried to build in from there. In the game, it was a bit slow.”
With some halftime changes, Dallas began to press the issue in the 2nd half, enjoying more possession even before going up a man.
“I thought we were better in the second half, more aggressive and more on the front foot,” FC Dallas Coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “We pushed the game better to just get more volume in the attack.”
Gonzalez emphasized flank play as FCD’s strong suit, something that City struggled with eventually bringing down Bryan Reynolds and earning a 2nd yellow within 4 minutes for Jhegson Méndez.
“We pushed and they did get a man down which allowed us to be a little more adventurous going forward as well,” Gonzalez continued. “Our subs reflected that we wanted to go for the game. We didn’t get it to bounce our way there at the end.”
After starting only one Homegrown player, Gonzalez went to his bench for some young attacking players subbing in Homegrowns Jesus Ferreira (66′), Tanner Tessmann (66′), and Ricardo Pepi (89′).
While FCD enjoyed more of the ball in the 2nd, they still didn’t create enough quality opportunity and finished with only 4 of their 14 shots on target and were outshot at home by 3.
Coach Gonzalez had to burn one of his subs early when Santiago Mosquera went down with what appeared to be a thigh program. He was replaced by Fafa Picault in the 21st minute. Orlando City all fell to the first half injury bug having to replaced Ruan in the 23rd minutes with Kamal Miller.
The friendship between coaches Luchi Gonzalez and Coach Pareja was on full display as both team’s coaching staff exchanged greetings and hugs in the pregame.
“Nothing but pride and respect,” Coach Gonzalez said during the post-game media session of feelings toward Coach Pareja. “I’m sure it goes both ways. Not just Oscar but (Luis) Muzzi and his whole staff. He has relationships with ours (staff), it was a good celebration of the history of the club and future of the club.”
Pareja played for FCD from 1998 to 2005, helped build the club’s Academy program, hired Coach Gonzalez when he was Academy Director, and coached FCD from 2014 to 2018.
FC Dallas hosts top-of-the-league Columbus Crew next Saturday, October 3rd. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm CT with a return to TXA21 for the broadcast.