FC Dallas broke records on Sunday night but never posed a threat of breaching Nashville SC’s goal in the second make-up game before the MLS season truly resumes.
Storms rolled in from the north in the lead-up to kick off, as a 209 minute delay topped the record set when FC Dallas’ 3-2 win over Toronto FC was stopped two minutes before half time in 2015.
Luchi Gonzalez returned to his tried and trusted 4-3-3 after losing to Nashville while venturing into a 3-5-2.
Paxton Pomykal and Zdenek Ondrasek returned to the starting lineup in place of Bressan and Jesus Ferreira, while Ryan Hollingshead was forced to miss the game due to a family emergency. Johnny Nelson slotted in at left back. Matt Hedges made his 247th MLS regular season appearance to tie Jason Kreis’ franchise record.
Dallas started brightly as their 4-3-3 played out similarly to how Nashville had set out in their first two games of the year, committing numbers forward. Franco Jara sat behind Kobra as the ten, but took his positioning as more of a withdrawn striker. Pomykal frequently ventured inside from the left wing to separate the pair as the fullbacks saw the sort of verticality that should have come from the 3-5-2.
Pomykal and Jara combined for what would turn out to be Dallas’ best chance just ten minutes in as the pair exchanged lofted passes with Pomykal setting up Dallas’ new striker with a header in the box that went wide.
After a promising opening 30 minutes, Dallas opted to slow the pace down as Nashville began to hit the hosts on the counter effectively. Much as we saw on Wednesday, the build-out play regressed to passing in the back line as Gonzalez’s side struggled to figure out a way to get through Nashville’s low block.
You need to play quick combos to break it down. I think we’re moving the ball too slowly once we pin them in the low back. We’re too slow and there’s not a whole lot of ideas.Matt Hedges on Dallas’ struggles against the low block.
On the other side of the ball Nashville were looking for an opener, forcing Jimmy Maurer into a double save as the Dallas keeper had to deal with a shot from Alistair Johnston – impressing in his first career start – from the edge of the box, immediately finding Randall Leal close to goal with the parried save.
Gonzalez appeared to limit both of his returning players’ minutes as Pomykal and Kobra made way for Fafa Picault and Jesus Ferreira just short of the hour mark.
While neither side was able to create clear chances, Nashville will be left disappointed for not scoring one of two gifts.
A Matt Hedges tackle fell to the feet of Dominique Badji who beat Maurer but not the post shortly after the hour.
Thiago Santos was a destroyer in defensive midfield, but a bad touch should have given the hosts the lead. Maurer made a save and rolled the ball out to Santos, but the Brazilian’s touch saw the ball bobble up and into the possession of Hany Mukhtar effectively leaving the German attacker one-on-one. Mukhtar seemed to second guess himself as he harmlessly rolled the ball into Mauer’s arms.
We are needing more work; we are lacking rhythm and combinations and creativity from everyone. It’s not just the attackers, it’s the whole team. We aren’t starting plays from the back like how we would like to. Our timing isn’t right for second balls, breaking lines and using different forms of play that we are used to. We played much better today than what we did on Wednesday. More energy and passion, but we are still missing a bit more of timing and creativity.Jimmy Maurer’s thoughts on FC Dallas’ struggles.
As the game progressed FC Dallas were able to bring the ball forward into the attacking third – a vast improvement from the midweek defeat – but a gap continued to widen between midfield and attack, often resulting in difficult passes finding their way back to a yellow jersey. Initially this began as the defensive and attacking units spaced out but later boiled down to fatigue.
As the clock hit 12:57am Rosendo Mendoza brought proceedings to a close. FC Dallas’ two-game head start against a winless Nashville side resulted in no goals and just one point. Nashville looked the better prepared side, and gave a clear blueprint on how to disrupt FC Dallas.
While we wait to see if Major League Soccer home advantage has crumbled away as has been the case across Europe, Fortress Frisco appears to have fallen.
Big picture is we had two games and got one point, that’s not good enough.Luchi Gonzalez reflects on the two games with Nashville
Dallas travels to Houston on Friday, looking to find both a result and some level of cohesion on the field.