It’s back-to-back wins for Nico Estevez and FC Dallas after a 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers.
A hat-trick from Jesus Ferreira and a late game-killer by Paul Arriola send both off to USMNT duty in good stead, and leave Dallas in a good place going into the international break.
Alan Velasco was the only change from the Nashville game, getting his first start and going 67 minutes before making way for Jader Obrian.
Ferreira Feeling It
Jesus Ferreira put up the fastest hat-trick in FC Dallas history to bring himself to 21 goals, just three short of his father’s total in hoops.
After finding a lot of success at the 10-spot, moving into his false-9 role hasn’t been plain sailing but we have seen a steady progression. Dropping back to help in the build didn’t always result in being up with play in time to contribute in the final third, but Ferreira has improved his timing of finding an outlet pass in the midfield and not just getting forward but getting central.
Where his touch map has been more spread about from the Dallas defensive third to all along the end line, against Portland you can see a clear pattern of getting into positions to attack rather than just contribute.
You could almost draw a line across the field into the final third to separate the dropping back and helping the build from the creation of chances and shots. It’s even more obvious when you take down Ferreira’s touches in that ten-minute period in the first half.
Let’s take a few of those touches from the chart to video. Here are the three goals Jesus had a hand in the build-up for.
His opening goal is the best example of what he is supposed to do as a false 9. He drops into the midfield to receive a pass from Matt Hedges and add an extra body for Portland to cover. He lays the ball off to Paxton Pomykal and is up in time to make the finish.
Ferreira’s hat trick came through chances that only totaled 0.89xG according to FotMob and MLS. After missing a couple of sitters in the opening three weeks, he’s now sitting slightly ahead of his expected numbers. Across four games, Ferreira has an xG of 2.4 according to MLS while American Soccer Analysis’ model lists him only at 1.74 well in favor of his three actual goals.
We’ve wanted to see a dominant Paxton Pomykal for a while and I’m shocked not to have seen this mentioned yet. Paxton put up some nice numbers to remind us what he’s capable of.
Two tackles, two interceptions, two clearances, a block, and a game-leading 36 pressures on the defensive side. Pomykal also had two key passes, a game-leading five progressive passes (passes made successfully that move play 10 yards forward into the attacking third), and four progressive dribbles.
I was a big fan of Pomykal taking a free role when Dallas switched to the 4-4-2, sitting in behind Jesus and pressing everything in sight. After Portland overloaded the midfield, having that extra body to attack the ball makes such a difference when out of possession.
Pomykal was officially awarded a second-assist on the opening goal, but in truth, he makes the pass that leads to the assist in three of Dallas’ four goals. If you go back and watch Arriola’s goal on the clip above, he suckers Yimmy Chara in on the dribble and leaves Ferreira with five yards space in all directions upon receiving the ball.
Also, a beautiful cross-field ball to Arriola.
Back Seat Driver
I’m so used to seeing Matt Hedges get things started with the build from the back, it was a little jarring seeing that fall more to Jose Martinez. As someone who spent time in the Barcelona and Sevilla systems, his passing is right where you want it for Dallas’ style, but it falls more often to the GOAT to get FCD moving.
The biggest problem with Martinez’s game is when he goes a little too gung-ho and gets exposed. Having him carrying the ball left Hedges in position to cover, and ensured a good spread of the ball to Marco Farfan against his former side.
Martinez matched Paxton’s five progressive passes and four progressive dribbles. He six passes into the attacking third, one behind Edwin Cerrillo and Claudio Bravo for the game. A 90% passing rate, leading the team in progressive distance (473yds – second only to Bravo) and leading the game in most completed medium and long-range passes.
It wasn’t a huge night for Martinez defensively as Matt Hedges put up those numbers but positive steps for the player whose place may be under the most scrutiny in the team.
Adaptability and Bouncebackability
When Gio Savarese brought Sebastian Blanco on at the break, Portland finally got into some rhythm and really shut up Dallas’ build with a far more aggressive press.
It’s a little frustrating to see the players keep trying the same thing in the face of that, but that is something Coach Estevez has preached to them.
It took a switch to a 4-4-2 to try and level things out in the midfield, while the team also took a more direct approach out of the back. Despite this, in the last 30 minutes, possession was still 60-40 in the visitors’ favor.
I liked Nico Estevez’s use of his bench to manage the game.
Jader Obrian gave good cover on the left side late in the game after Ema Twumasi came in, and had a nice block after stepping out of a two-man wall defending a Portland free kick.
The only one I was perplexed by was Franco Jara.
If you believe you’ve completely killed the game off and can get some balls into him, great. I just wanted to see someone with a little more pace brought in to help press back, like Szabolcs Schon.
I do agree that sub shouldn’t have been used to throw Nkosi Tafari on just for an extra defender. That may have had an unbalancing effect and ceded the midfield battle to add a defender unnecessarily.
Last week I mentioned I’d love to hear the conversation between Rami Touchon and his VAR on the penalty that got reviewed but not overturned.
Well, we have it now. It’s interesting that the VAR focused on the ref’s belief that lower body contact was made even though the upper body contact was clear.
The international break is here. So no FC Dallas this weekend as Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola go to do their thing with the USMNT.
North Texas SC starts its season on Saturday over at Choctaw Stadium against MNUFC2. Denton Diablos also host DKSC in the US Open Cup in midweek. That’s plenty of local soccer to keep us going through the break!
So why not go out and support local soccer?