The FC Dallas flight home from Vancouver is going to feature a great deal of reflection. On the one hand, losing from a winning position off an individual error against the bottom club. On the other, a loss at the end of an extended west coast road trip that featured a somewhat unexpected win, on an iffy playing surface with the game coming down to a late penalty.
Nico Estevez made three changes to his lineup after the 3-1 win against LA. Midfield duo Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo returned to replace Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Facundo Quignon. Nanu came in at right back with Ema Twumasi dropping to the bench.
The team was still without Maarten Paes, Alan Velasco, and Jose Martinez who have all been in MLS health and safety protocol. Paes posted on social media earlier in the day that he had been released from quarantine and trained in Frisco.
Take Your Time
Is anyone really missing Alan Velasco? Because I’m not sure Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira are.
We’ve talked a lot about verticality and suitability to a role over the years. Something Jader Obrian has brought back to the team the past two games has been that verticality. With Obrian, you know he’s going straight down the wing and likely looking for a pass, whereas Velasco is a lot of mazy runs that often result in the ball being poked away. His 49 combined miscontrols and dispossessions are well ahead of the next Huntsman with 26.
Do I think Jader Obrian is a better footballer than Alan Velasco? Absolutely not, but I also don’t think FC Dallas scores the early opener – or has Chase Gasper on the ropes all game – in LA, or the goal in Vancouver with Velasco in the lineup.
The Hot Hand
From not hurrying one player back to calling out for another’s immediate return.
Consistent minutes and form can be difficult for any player but none more so than goalkeepers. Jimmy Maurer has started the past three games and it’s been noted that his communication and command hasn’t appeared the same as in 2021. A few mistakes have also crept in.
The indecision on the Edwin Cerrillo own goal and misjudging a soft header as wide in Kansas City seemed like a mark of just not getting minutes in a game setting in 2022. In Vancouver, conceding a goal in the near post and then the strange choice to try to preserve a corner by parrying a ball to an attacker’s feet, that ultimately led to the game-winning penalty.
Paes’ stock has certainly risen in the past week even without considering how good the Dutchman has been. The league leader in goals against per game (0.70), fourth in save percentage (80%), and third in post-shot expected goals against minus goals against (+3.1).
Jimmy Maurer has been excellent for FC Dallas and no doubt still will be, but getting the in-form guy back on Sunday is a big deal as FCD seeks a response.
On The Surface
FC Dallas plays in a league that allows artificial playing surfaces, the team also prepares on such fields. The players are typically unfazed by that, citing their many years playing youth soccer on artificial surfaces.
Dallas certainly had issues with the ball overrunning, which Paul Arriola put down to the amount of sand laid on the turf, labeling it as awful to play on. That should speak volumes because Arriola played on turf at Xolos, and rightly pointed out that the home side has every right to prepare it to their advantage.
Some may remember the playoff game in Seattle where home advantage dictated the field condition. FCD trained on the Lumen Field turf the night before the game, then ground staff covered the turf in enough rubber crumb to make the field almost unrecognizable on TV. That dramatically changed the way the ball rolled and bounced away from FC Dallas’ counter attack. Similarly in Vancouver we saw the ball getting away from runners, and players spoke of an awkward bounce on the turf.
That wasn’t the team’s only issue as Matt Hedges was subbed out early. Nico Estevez explained that the captain’s hamstrings and calves had tightened up on the turf field, leaving them to make the precautionary change rather than risk injury.
Even Paxton Pomykal – the ultimate turf apologist at Toyota Stadium – mentioned the difficulty to play on the BC Place pitch, and the toll it took on the players physically which showed as Dallas ran out of steam.
The Long Way Round
The FC Dallas players and staff will be happy to touch down in Dallas on Thursday after an extended road trip.
Some of the roster flew out to Kansas City on Monday last week for the Open Cup game, getting back in the early hours of Wednesday morning. By 10:30am on Friday they were already back at Love Field to fly out for Saturday’s game with the Galaxy.
The past few days since then were spent in Vancouver. Pomykal did reveal that June’s Seattle/Portland game week will see another long trip.
In any case, there will be some players happy to see family, sleep in their own bed, and have the benefit of a full treatment room back at Toyota Stadium.
It’s Hall of Fame Weekend, which is being split up this year. The festivities will take place on Saturday before FC Dallas hosts Minnesota United for an early 6pm kick-off. The game will be shown on TXA 21 and locally online at FCDallas.com/stream.