FC Dallas returned to season play in a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire in the first Brimstone Cup match since 2019.
Nico Estévez made three changes to the starting lineup featuring Franco Jara and Facundo Quignon making their first starts of 2022 over Jesus Ferreira and Edwin Cerrillo respectively. Jader Obrian replaced the injured Paul Arriola as the right-wing.
In a cold and rainy match, neither said was able to break the deadlock, finishing scoreless. FC Dallas gets their first road point while the Brimstone Cup will stay in Chicago for another year.
Occupying the Middle
In the first half, FC Dallas had a gap between their center backs and throughout the middle of the field while Facundo Quignon was the lone occupier of space in this region.
Chicago, having an increased number of players in the middle, found their success by playing the ball forward centrally.
“It was definitely a battle in the midfield,” Servania explained. “I think we did a good job overall trying to impose ourselves where we had to sit back and defend a lot. I think we were able to do a decent job on the road. We tried to get the ball from a low block and trying to get it up to their defensive line. I think we did a better job in the second half trying to control the tempo and keeping possession in their half.”
Paxton Pomykal and Brandon Servania weren’t able to play the through the middle as much as they have done so far in the season. Instead, they helped supplement the attack as a pivot point for the wingers creating a triangle between midfielder, Winger, and Striker.
Chicago started the game with a very high press forcing the Dallas backline to move the ball up the field quickly.
“If we were able to win the ball and transition quickly then we could hurt them [Chicago],” Estévez said. “I saw a lot of options throughout the game where we forced them to make mistakes and allowed us to recover the ball at different heights in the field. We knew we could have the ball against Chicago even though they continued to press.”
Due to Chicago occupying the middle of the field, Dallas was forced out wide and had to play passed in between Chicago’s lines and passing channels.
Chicago, through their occupation of the midfield, shot from the center of the field.
Dallas chose to play the ball forward quickly in order to overcome the omitted numbers from Chicago’s press.
“We were trying to figure out how to play centrally together to break them down,” Pomykal said about playing in the midfield. “I felt like our press was okay in the first half and better in the second half after we fixed some things in the locker room. We forced them to play long a lot more and created more possession and created chances in the second half. They stepped their lines up whenever we wanted to play long and it made it really hard to play it through the middle.”
Attacking the Flanks
FC Dallas showed a preference to attack down the flanks when building out of the back. Doing so allowed Velasco and Obrain to used use their skill and speed, respectively, to break through Chicago’s defense.
An argument can be made that part of the reason Dallas attacked down the flanks is a byproduct of Franco Jara starting.
Franco, in comparison to Jesus, has played more centrally in comparison to his younger counterpart. He tends to occupy the opposition center backs thus allowing the wingers to cut in or attack down the flanks.
“It was more of how can we draw them out to attack the wide areas,” Nico Estévez said after the game. “You could see more [of the attack] on the right side with Nanu and Brandon [Servania]. We created more overloads on that side that allows us to create more opportunities. It was a pity that we couldn’t connect the last pass or score a shot to win the game.”
Additionally, because Chicago pressed from the center of the field outwards toward the touchline, Dallas was pressed to attack down the flanks.
The introduction of Jesus Ferreira saw Dallas attempt to play the ball through the middle. Meanwhile, Jesus drifted across the field and tried to drop more into the midfield to try to accumulate the ball.
FC Dallas returns home and will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, April 9th at 7:30 PM Central, and Michael Barrios and Bryan Acosta make their return to Toyota Stadium.