Quick takeaways from FCD’s smash and grab win at RSL

FC Dallas probably owes the sport of association football an apology, but style points are not a luxury to have for the team’s first win in eight games. Jesus Ferreira got the goal in the 14th minute and Dallas held on for a first win since May.

Marco Farfan made his return from a concussion to afford Coach Nico Estevez what looks like his first-choice lineup.

Brandon Servania did not travel with an abdominal strain. Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, was missing both Bobby Wood and Demir Kreilach.

Grinding

Story time. I watched the Austin game from home, feeling worse as the game went on. Something to do with MLS Health & Safety Protocol… The crappy first couple of days of that continued illness is why I never did a takeaways post last week, but point number one was going to be about how Austin FC are grinding out results when they lose the xG matchup.

Including the draw last week, Austin’s record when behind on xG is an impressive 6W-3D-4L.

Dallas’ success has largely been based on the goalscoring form of Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola and an initially stingy defense. With the latter portion now held together by Maarten Paes, Dallas should look to emulate the kids down I-35 in that particular statistic.

Down 2.4 – 0.5 xG at RSL, Dallas moved to 2W – 5D – 2L.

Orthophobia

The fear of possessions could be in Nico Estevez‘s future. While looking at the Austin xG number, I saw a number that piqued my interest.

We think of FC Dallas as a bit of a possession team, but 11 of the 22 games have seen FC Dallas with less than 50% possession. Of those games, the recent New York City game was the first loss, and that was less than half a percent under 50.

Saturday’s game was the fourth win, with six ties. 30% was the lowest number recorded all season after an 80-20 second half. One of the five-minute intervals saw just FC Dallas hold the ball for just 8.7% of the period.

Buzz has said a couple of times that Jesus Ferreira needs less of the ball and less time on the ball. He’s an instinctual player rather than a dominant possessor of the ball, and that seems to be a trend within the team.

Just in case you were working it out, that means the record in games where FCD controls possession is 4W-1D-5L. Even boiled down to two decimal places, the Chicago draw was a dead even 50.00% – 50.00% possession.

Paper Thin

You’d have to be crazy to not have had the thought cross your mind that this roster isn’t particularly deep.

Steve Davis was virtually pleading with Nico Estevez to make timely changes on the broadcast as RSL piled on the pressure in the second half. We’ve seen some fantastic halftime adjustments by Coach Estevez in games but then continued hesitation to make in-game adjustments.

I found the bench a little puzzling when the lineups were announced:
Jimmy Maurer – GK
Edwin Cerrillo – DM
Beni Redzic – LW/some 9 in a pinch
Nkosi Tafari – CB/emergency RB
Kalil ElMedkhar – LW
Joshue Quinonez – CB/emergency RB
Franco Jara – 9
Nanu – RB/RW

We heard Brandon Servania likely wasn’t traveling. Paxton Pomykal going 90 minutes isn’t a favored option given how gung-ho his game is. Tsiki Ntsabeleng isn’t a 90-minute player with his high-energy game. Even without the South African’s apparent bout of altitude sickness in the first half, not having a player who can play the 8 seems crazy when Thomas Roberts has that in his bag back in Frisco.

It speaks to the inflexibility of roster management as much as the roster itself since there was a like-for-like replacement available, yet the changes in the midfield are awfully predictable. Jara on up front, drop Jesus back into midfield, and neutralize the team’s best scoring threat. Double pivot midfield, then use a third center back. Need an attacking threat, here’s a like-for-like swap at right back. Got a spare sub opportunity with five minutes left, here’s Beni Redzic to get some garbage time minutes without giving him much chance to settle in and play.

It’s staggering that two-thirds of the way through the season, Roberts and Szabolcs Schon haven’t so much as touched the field in an MLS game.

Looking through the minutes for each Western Conference player, the only other player with four years served as a pro and zero minutes that’s not a goalkeeper or injured is Callum Montgomery up in Minnesota.

I was convinced I’d find some glaring stat that FC Dallas leans more heavily on a smaller number of guys – which they don’t – though FC Dallas does give subs fewer minutes, but only just. The average time for a sub is 16 minutes, which lines up close to the average of around 18-22 minutes among Western Conference teams. Only Nashville joins Dallas on 16.

Looking Ahead

The LA Galaxy comes to town over the weekend off the back of a 2-0 home win over Atlanta. That result snapped a three-game losing streak.

Currently in seventh, LA is in a scrap for the playoffs but also has one of those daft MLS-Liga MX friendlies coming up that MLS probably wants a fresh Chicharito for. They play Chivas on Wednesday in a Leagues Cup showcase doubleheader at SoFi Stadium.

TXA 21 is showing the 8 pm kickoff with FCDallas.com streaming the game locally, ESPN+ for those out of market.

2 Comments

  1. Ugly game. The team needs to learn how to close out these types of games. This should give them some confidence going forward….I hope.

  2. In the West, Dallas has the tightest rotation by minutes played. The top 17 guys account for 98.4% of the total minutes played. the next closest is Minnesota with 97.4% of their minutes played by the top 17. Austin, which is more typical of the rest of the conference, has 94.4% of their total minutes played by the top 17. At this point in the season 1% point is roughly equivalent to an extra 200 minutes of playing time, so Dallas’ core players have played an additional 800 minutes compared to most of the rest of the conference.

    It definitely appears that Nico considers Jara, Obrian, Tsiki, Cerillo, Tafari, and Nanu to be his only quality bench solutions. I have a hard time believing Redzic and El Medkhar are better than Roberts or Schon but Nico apparently does not.

    Historically, Dallas has been one of the deeper teams in the league by minutes played, with far more distribution of minutes across the team as a whole. I’m afraid Nico is going to burn his starters out.

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