Takeaways from Coach Nico’s first FC Dallas road win

FC Dallas extended the longest active unbeaten run in Major League Soccer to nine games while claiming a first away win under Nico Estevez. For only the 8th time in 40 attempts, Dallas won away at the LA Galaxy.

Estevez had to shuffle the team around after Maarten Paes, Jose Martinez, and Alan Velasco all entered MLS health and safety protocol, meaning Jimmy Maurer, Nkosi Tafari, and Jader Obrian would get the start.

Dallas scored three in a 12-minute spell in the first half as Jesus Ferreira moved two clear in the MLS Golden Boot race with goals on either side of Paul Arriola‘s third goal of 2022.

The Chase Is On

It’s been a tough year for Chase Gasper. After bravely checking into rehab earlier in the year, then being traded from Minnesota United to LA, the one time FC Dallas tormentor made his first start of the 2022 MLS season, and first in the Galaxy white. The front three for FCD didn’t make it a happy debut by any means.

FCD found a lot of success putting a runner inside of Gasper on the Dallas right, starting with Ema Twumasi releasing Jader Obrian in the 11th minute en route to the opening goal. They kept going back to the well until Dallas began to shut up shop in the second half.

FC Dallas targets runs inside Chase Gasper

No Go Zone

FC Dallas did a great job containing Chicharito Hernandez. The former Man Utd striker had his customary 30 touches with only one shot on target – forcing a double save from Jimmy Maurer that came close to being an equalizer off a close-range header.

The most notable change about how FC Dallas defended Chicharito was to play a more zonal defense. Typically you’ll see one of the center backs attacking the ball with the other – usually Matt Hedges – back in cover. In LA, both center backs sat between Jimmy Maurer and the ball, with the full backs and Facundo Quignon often picking up the Mexican forward.

The midfield had some characteristics of the ‘triple pivot’ as Quignon would break upfield chasing the ball with Paxton Pomykal and Tsiki Ntsabeleng dropping back before one or the other would switch. Facu and Pax both had a strong defensive stat line.

Quignon had 30 pressures, three tackles, two interceptions, eight blocks, and six clearances. In those same areas, Pomykal went 21, 2, 4, 1, 2, in addition to an assist, another key pass, plus four passes and two carries into the final third.

Running Through the Gears

FC Dallas’ last two wins have seen three formations used to effect. Both have started with the usual 4-3-3 and ended with a defensive 3-4-3. Dallas expected Seattle to use a 4-2-3-1, but Brian Schmetzer surprised Nico Estevez with a 3-4-2-1. The hoops used the 4-2-3-1 against the Sounders, and in the win in Southern California, Nico Estevez’s side adopted their hosts’ 4-4-2 briefly after bringing Franco Jara on.

There were only 14 largely defensive minutes in the 4-4-2 but I was interested to see Paxton Pomykal and Paul Arriola playing on their opposite sides as wide midfielders. That may have been an exercise in forcing the Galaxy to attack their weak sides which would then force them inside to Facundo Quignon and Edwin Cerrillo, but having that pair cutting in to shoot would have been fun.

Looking Ahead

FC Dallas stayed out on the west coast in preparation for Vancouver on Wednesday. The team was due to prepare in Carson, CA, with the remainder of the week’s schedule due to be disclosed on Monday.

The 9 pm kickoff will air on TXA 21 and FCDallas.com/stream as Dallas looks to build on 2nd place in the west with a first win at BC Place since 2018.

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