“Never too late” takeaways as FC Dallas drops a result at home

FC Dallas endured its first loss at home in 2022 and a second loss on the week after Minnesota pulled out a 2-1 result on Sunday. Robin Lod and DJ Taylor put the Loons ahead by two. Paul Arriola scored in his fourth consecutive game but Dallas couldn’t pull the game level despite a host of chances.

After a precautionary substitution in the Vancouver game, Matt Hedges dropped to the bench to leave Nksoi Tafari to pair the returning Jose Martinez. Behind them, Maarten Paes also made his way back out of health and safety protocol. Still no Alan Velasco.

Nico Estevez opted to rest Brandon Servania, with Tsiki Ntsabeleng starting. Facundo Quignon maintained his start over Edwin Cerrillo. Perhaps the big shock was Franco Jara starting over Jesus Ferreira, who dropped to the bench alongside Servania and Cerrillo.

Set Played

FC Dallas hadn’t conceded a goal off a set piece until Douglas Costa’s free kick in LA, but Dallas can add a couple more to that list after Robin Lod cleaned up a save off a free kick and DJ Taylor drilled a cleared corner.

Maarten Paes was kind enough to break down the goals for me from his perspective.

“Maybe on the first goal, I would take a five-man wall instead of a four-man wall the next time. This is a big learning point for me to acknowledge that and to see that. The deflection is what’s so unlucky in my opinion, because it’s so hard to know when you’re out of balance.”

I’ve put a freeze-frame in as the ball deflects off Paul Arriola, outside of the main wall. The deflection changes the direction enough that Paes has to try to save to his left after starting to side to his right for the original trajectory of the ball. It wasn’t a big deflection, just enough to have Paes already leaning away.

“I think it was [Robin] Lod coming from behind [the defense]. At the last minute he opened his leg, so I had to wait for that because I can’t go early if he touches it.”

No editing is required here. You can see Franco Fragapane barely staying onside and shielding the Dutchman’s view of the ball from the above angles.

Both goals are still largely on the Dallas keeper, but at least you can see what was happening in the FCD goal.

Changes

Nico Estevez has been largely successful with his in-game adjustments, but I think he made a few of the mistakes we saw in 2021.

With the leading scorer in Major League Soccer on the bench and FC Dallas two goals down, Coach Estevez naturally turns to Jesus Ferreira in the 57th minute. At that point, FC Dallas has created ten shots but only put one on target.

FC Dallas was crying out for someone to finish the plentiful chances, but instead Ferreira is inserted as a 10 in a 4-2-3-1. Estevez mentioned Ferreira’s ability to run between lines, much as Luchi Gonzalez did the past couple of years.

The player replaced, Tsiki Ntsabeleng, was second in the game with five shot-creating actions and, at the time, leading everyone by two SCAs.

Estevez has a habit of having FC Dallas line up in the opposition’s formation at some point in games. It feels like the Jesus for Tsiki swap was just a vehicle for that, which in turn denied the team’s top scorer a chance to finish off some of the chances created.

The second substitution was also a strange choice. The next player after Ntsabeleng in SCA was Ema Twumasi, who gets switched out for Nanu in the 80th minute. A like-for-like full back swap seems an odd choice when chasing a game, let alone when Twumasi was having a great game offensively.

Efficiency

FC Dallas struggled to direct shots at goal all night as 14 of 19 were off target. Worse yet, nine of those efforts came inside the area with five from Franco Jara alone.

Jara had a big part to play in pressuring Minnesota in possession – he was second on FC Dallas with 20 pressures – but not having Ferreira there to finish chances was a big blow.

Looking Ahead

The last game before the international break is a visit to Orlando City. Papi’s side has been surprisingly off at home, losing to Cincinnati, New York, and LAFC. They’ll also be on short rest with a US Open Cup game against Miami on Wednesday.

The 6:30 pm kick-off can be seen on TXA21 and the usual streaming options.

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