The new era was a little late to start but apparently, it’s now here as FC Dallas put down Nashville SC with a 2-0 scoreline.
The one change to the lineup that Nico Estevez made wasn’t the one everyone expected. Alan Velasco had to settle for a place on the bench as Jader Obrian continued with the start. Instead, Nanu replaced Ema Twumasi at right back.
Both of FCD’s million-dollar Argentines made their mark. Franco Jara sent Joe Willis the wrong way from the spot before Alan Velasco scored what will be named the MLS Goal of the Week in the next day or so.
Of course, we’re going to talk about Alan Velasco first, but I don’t want to talk about his performance. Here’s the goal anyway…
Velasco’s personality impressed me as much as anything. He could have pulled the high price tag card and tried to demand the penalty but didn’t. Instead, he gave words of encouragement to Franco Jara.
After the game, I noticed he tracked down Walker Zimmerman and asked to swap jerseys. In the post-game press conference, I asked what made him want to seek out the former Dallas defender. Through a translator, he said he’d talked it over with Jara and Facundo Quignon. Respecting senior players’ opinions and having that support structure is a huge deal in a young player.
Even in the press conference, Valesco was a little reserved but happy to answer questions.
It draws a slight contrast to Mauro Diaz. As talented a player he was, you never got the impression that he was mentally and emotionally invested.
He wasn’t always the best trainer, would literally take the back door out of the changing rooms to avoid recording quotes for media and the team itself. It all showed through on the pitch enough that there were ‘sad Mauro’ hashtags throughout his tenure.
There was some talk that Velasco didn’t want to leave Independiente for Dallas, but he seems here in every sense.
Arriola Works For His Penalty
Jader Obrian needs to watch Paul Arriola winning dead balls. The penalty kick he won to open the scoring was truly earned, not necessarily by diving but by forcing the foul to happen.
Jack Maher had been on the field for 89 seconds before Ramy Touchan pointed to the spot, calling the 22-year-old for a push in the back of Arriola.
FC Dallas had been trying to create some disarray in the Nashville backline. While Walker Zimmerman produced some heroics, he was taken in by Franco Jara setting up just beyond the D with an outlet pass to Brandon Servania. Arriola makes a neat run, curving offside from the right leaving Maher to chase the Dallas winger down as he expects Arriola to make a run to the back post. Instead, the USMNT attacker slows down to let the line of offside catch up to him and take the contact.
It’s largely manufactured but Maher ultimately leaves a large gap behind Zimmerman then runs into the back of Arriola with his arms out in a pushing motion.
I’m interested to see if the review is covered in this weekend’s edition of Inside VAR on the PRO YouTube channel. It’s good to see the transparency behind the decisions, but I’m interested to see why the VAR felt there was a ‘clear and obvious error’ that warranted the recommendation to review.
Breaking Down The Wall
It’s been a minute since those back-to-back games in 2020 but Gary Smith‘s Nashville side is all about stout defense and daring to try to break it down.
Nico Estevez‘s side tried a few different ways to pull the Nashville defense around but for the most part, Walker Zimmerman was there.
FCD used six different players to take corners, varying up between trying to drop the ball on top of the keeper and create chaos, and swinging the ball out towards the edge of the area hoping to draw Zimmerman or Romney out of position for a second ball back into the area.
Dallas played very centrally with both fullbacks getting high up the field, leaving it far later than usual to spread the ball out wide in order to keep the visitors’ backline guessing and stretched sideline-to-sideline.
There was a really nice piece of play where Paxton Pomykal held the ball up in the middle of the park looking for the first defender to move so he could pick his spot, but I can’t seem to find it to clip it.
We’ve seen a lot of Pomykal and Brandon Servania playing wide in the 8 spots to create overloads on the flanks, although that was heavily reduced as the game wore on. Servania still did a lot of side-to-side play but Pomykal stayed fairly central with Edwin Cerrillo. Here’s a breakdown of their average positions in the first three games.
Experience Off The Bench
Velasco took the headlines, Servania really deserved the Man of the Match award, Marco Farfan put in another tireless performance on both sides of the ball, but I want to bring attention to Franco Jara’s contribution.
Firstly it was Jara who pulled Zimmerman out of position on both goals, which was something FC Dallas had been struggling to do all game.
As good as it would have been for Jesus Ferreira to get his first goal of the season from that penalty, Jara is 30/35 in his career and 3/4 for Dallas whereas Ferreira has yet to take a penalty in-game yet. Ferreira also seemed fired up after seeing his fellow striker score, he was chasing down everything in sight for the four minutes until he was subbed out for Quignon.
Having a bigger stronger forward on can be of great use on both sides of the ball. As Nashville gained a couple of free kicks and throw-ins in stoppage time, the Argentine was the floating player helping to cut out what had been Nashville’s most likely way back into the game. He won a defensive aerial duel and ran a loose ball out of the box before clearing to kill of Nashville’s last attack of the game.
Is it a $2m/yr contribution – no – but his locker room presence and mentorship of Pepi, Ferreira, and now Velasco, has already more than paid for itself. Having a tactically smart goal scorer off the bench may just be a bonus.
A quick apology for the tardiness of this piece. I got a migraine during the press conference and hadn’t been able to shift it until earlier today. Won’t happen again!
A somewhat new-look Portland comes to town next Saturday before the international break.
The timbers won their first game at the weekend, squeezing out a 1-0 score against Austin. It a game that produced 30 shots but only one on target.
Portland has allowed a staggering 56 shots in three games, although only 11 of those were on target. By comparison, Dallas sits at 23 shots allowed, but only five on frame.
The 7:30 kick-off will air on TXA 21 and FCDallas.com/stream locally.