Luccin’s FC Dallas earns his maiden win against St. Louis

The Peter Luccin era kicked off with a win over St. Louis CITY SC. Was it entertaining? Yes. Was it a technical masterclass? Not quite.

In some ways the game felt like a return to more of an FC Dallas identity.

“It’s a lot of emotion to win this first game,” Luccin said. “I need to be honest, I know it’s a win but we need to do better. We need to do better. I look at these stats and it’s not good enough but I want to say something to the work that the boys put out there. It’s a high level. Now we adjust to help them understand.”

Luccin named his first lineup as FC Dallas coach, and those expecting a shift away from a back three would have been disappointed.

Omar Gonzalez came into the back line alongside Nkosi Tafari and Sebas Ibeagha. With Ema Twumasi injured, Paul Arriola came in at right wing back opposite Marco Farfan.

Sebastian Lletget joined Asier Illarramendi in the midfield, with Patrickson Delgado retaining his inside-10 role with Jesus Ferreia. Petar Musa occupied the high line.

The new era started in an unfortunate manner for the visitors. Celio Pompeu fouled Nkosi Tafari, who came down hard on Pompeu’s leg leading to a lengthy delay for the medical cart from the 13th minute.

Things didn’t go swimmingly for defender Joakim Nilsson either, giving up what looked like a soft penalty before limping off with a hamstring injury minutes after.

The penalty came after Paul Arriola burst into the box off a lofted pass by Marco Farfan. Nilsson went shoulder-to-shoulder as the FC Dallas captain went down under the challenge with referee Jon Freemon not hesitating to point to the spot before awarding a yellow card.

Jesus Ferreira sent Roman Burki the wrong way in the 28th minute for the opening goal of Luccin’s tenure and his third of the season.

FC Dallas had largely kept St. Louis quiet, Joao Klauss forced Maarten Paes into a full-stretch save. The would-be Indonesia number one pulled off a fantastic reaction save from a point blank header by substitute Nokkvi Thorisson.

A solid first half for Luccin’s side. The 3-4-3 appeared far more effective with Tafari and Ibeagha playing aggressively out of the back, pressing into the midfield. The wingbacks took a much higher line that we saw under Nico Estevez, allowing Illarramendi and Lletget a longer leash as two-way players. The team struggled to generate chances, but took a step in the right direction.

“I like it,” said FC Dallas wing back Marco Farfan. “When I came here in 2022 and in the beginning of the 2023 season, we were an offensive team. With two or three passes we would break the line and we played direct. It’s what helped us get the win tonight.”

Energy was the buzzword of Tuesday’s introduction, but that was far from evident at the start of the second half. The Burn labored, with St. Louis CITY SC pressuring the FC Dallas box consistently. Paes once again produced an outstanding save to deny Klauss in the 48th minute, recording eight saves for the third time in 2024.

Peter Luccin went to his bench in the 63rd minute. Jesus Ferreira faded in and out of the game from the first minute, Patrickson Delgado ran himself into the ground. Both players made way for Logan Farrington and Tsiki Ntsabeleng in a straight swap. Tsiki played that more under role, dropping into the midfield often.

The swap had an almost immediate effect as Logan Farrington slammed the ball home in the 71st minute only for VAR to wipe out the score. Petar Musa ran on to a ball through the right side of the box, holding play up pulling in both center backs to leave Farrington room to volley home, but the Croatian strayed offside in the build-up.

Dallas did extend the lead ten minutes later through Nkosi Tafari. Sebastian Lletget laid an inswinging corner on the six-yard line. Tafari left Indiana Vassilev standing to power home a header.

More subs followed. Liam Fraser and Bernard Kamungo came in for Sebastian Lletget and Petar Musa in the 85th minute. Marco Farfan gave way for Sam Junqua three minutes later.

The fourth official indicated 11 minutes of stoppage time, to go with the 12 from the first half. The important number was the three points earned ahead of a midweek fixture with Minnesota United.

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