FC Dallas left Houston on Friday night with a point in a game that both sides will be disappointed with.
Matt Hedges broke Jason Kreis’ franchise record for most MLS regular season appearances starting in the heart of the back three as Luchi Gonzalez ventured into a 3-4-3 against Houston’s high press.
For all the tweaks, the same disconnect in transition was evident as Dallas struggled to move the ball forward.
“Today was more 3-4-3 but became 3-5-2 towards the end of the game,” said Gonzalez of the formation changes in each of the three games. “I think we’re shoring up defensively. We’re finding spaces to attack in open spaces but I think the key is just what we lose in maybe having one consistent formation, we’re gaining in having fluidity within formations and being versatile in the formations.”
The two teams faced differing issues as Dallas ceded possession to their Texas Derby rivals. Dallas once again failed to create chances, or even trouble the defense for two-thirds of the game.
Houston on the other hand created 17 chances with six shots on target, but those efforts posed little threat for Jimmy Maurer in the Dallas goal. To their credit, Dallas forced Houston into shooting from outside the box, with the three efforts inside the box all mishit.
If the first half was all Houston, Dallas at least started the second half brightly. The quality of passes out of the back improved, although Bryan Acosta struggled with the offensive aspect in a double pivot for the third successive game.
“We’ve got to keep working,” said Gonzalez. “Those are synchronizations, those are positional things. Spacing, timing, and the potential is definitely there.”
Acosta would make way for Brandon Servania, with Paxton Pomykal entering for Michael Barrios in the changes that would really bring Dallas into a competing role. Servania simply played the linking role that had been missing in the midfield. Pomykal drew fouls and held off the high press long enough to bring team mates into the attack.
It took 50 minutes for FC Dallas to register a shot, and 72 minutes for the side’s only shot on target. The latter coming from the man of the hour as Matt Hedges got his head on a Reto Ziegler corner.
“We looked at Houston’s games and we noticed that they’re good offensively on set pieces, but also they’re vulnerable defensively,” said Hedges. “There’s something that we worked on. I almost had another one [shot on target], towards the end. Barely missed missed it, but great balls from Reto [Ziegler].”
Defensively Dallas looks as you’d expect the team to, but no goals in three games and only one shot on target in each of the last two games is a concern as FCD goes through what was seen as a favorable run of games to start Major League Soccer’s restart.