The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids, April 2024

After a couple of weeks off (due to my real job overload), I’m back for The Breakdown against Colorado. It’s that I likely won’t have a Dynamo breakdown next week either. April is super busy for me. I look forward to the day I can quit my job(s) and do this full-time.

FC Dallas traveled to Denver yesterday to take on the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The game did not go well.

How appropriate that FC Dallas went to the Mile High City on 4/20.

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez continues to stick with the 3-4-3 including Dante Sealy at wingback. This version played differently than drawn up as it was more 3-5-2 with Sebastian Lletget as an 8 next to Asier Illarramendi and Liam Fraser in a single pivot. That left Petar Musa and Eugene Ansah up top in a two.

Also, Sealy and Paul Arriola were flipped so they played switch foot wings.

No Jesus Ferreira on the bench. Set back or precaution cause of the cold?

FC Dallas XI at Colorado Rapids on April 20, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at Colorado Rapids on April 20, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

There were a lot of subs in this game, 6 per team.

Dallas brought in Logan Farrington and Bernard Kaumgo in the 55th minute for Ansah and Sealy. (More on that later.) Then Nkosi Tafari and Tsiki Ntsabeleng came on for Omar Gonzalez and Lletget in the 64th.

Patrickson Delgado came on for Illarramendi in the 76th in what I believe was a minute restriction sub.

Then an extra sub, with Carl Sainte making his MLS debut coming on for the possibly injured Fraser.

Since the Rapids are cowards and don’t post a shape in their socials, here is the MLS version of their 4-2-3-1.

The Colorado Rapids XI against FC Dallas, April 20, 2024. (Courtesy MLS)
The Colorado Rapids XI against FC Dallas, April 20, 2024. (Courtesy MLS)

In the 64th minute, Sebastian Anderson came on for Sam Vines. This triggered the extra subs.

Yes, The Colorado Rapids made 6 subs. In case you were confused by that, Vines was subbed for concussion protocol which doesn’t count against your 5 cause player safety reasons. And then because the Rapids got 6 subs, FC Dallas got an extra one too.

Omir Fernández repalced Kevin Cabral in the 69th.

Then two double subs late as the Rapids tried to kill off the game. Darren Yapi and Lalas Abubakar replaced Rafael Navarro and Calvin Harris in the 80th minute. Then Lamine Diack and Jasper Löffelsend repalced Cole Bassett and Djordje Mihailovic in the 87th.


0-1 Colorado Rapids. 45th minute. Right before the half, FC Dallas gives up an own goal from Sebastien Ibeagha. Cole Bassett did most of the work for Colorado, getting in the cross after beating Dante Sealy.

0-2 Colorado Rapids. 49th minute. Shortly after the 2nd half begins, the Rapids get another own goal this one from Sam Junqua. Calvin Harris did the work after losing the two center backs in the middle but Maarten Paes came up with a great save only for it to be re-directed by Junqua for the goal. Kévin Cabral sorta had the assist for Colorado.

1-2 FC Dallas. 87th minute. Petar Musa finishes from a tight angle after a lovely pass into the box by Liam Fraser.

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Bernie Kamungo. I thought his energy was infectious. Granted he didn’t have to do much defending, but he went at people, got behind, got some balls in. Arriola should have scored on probably the best chance of the night.

The team was able to respond later in the second half. The players I brought on during the second half brought intensity and showed fight.

Coach Nico Estevez

For the first 70 minutes, I was really worried about Petar Musa, not from his effort but from his body language. It was clear he was very frustrated. He has to have some buyer’s remorse about coming here. But he didn’t quit, he kept working and he got that goal late. So credit to him for fighting. We’ve seen players come here and quit before. 4 shots (2x the next best) and 3 Aerials won (3x the next best) on 39 touches.

Maarten Paes was again excellent making 3 top-notch saves in the first 60 minutes (including on the Junqua own goal). This scoreline could have been much worse.

The subs in the 55th minute were the earliest ones I can recall Coach Nico Estevez making. He was clearly pissed. Good. Be pissed. It’s not good enough.

I am not satisfied with our performance tonight. We can’t play like this every game. We can’t do everything halfway and not go through with what we want to do. I felt like the players showed fear and were not willing to go forward which caught me off guard. I talked to them about that at halftime and I told them that the first half was unacceptable.

Coach Nico Estevez

Much respect for the traveling fans.

“Our fans have been great all season, we haven’t shown up for them. It is motivation for us to go and beat Houston next Saturday and obtain three points.”

Paul Arriola

Camino del Medio

I was curious if anyone had given up two own goals in MLS before and the answer is yes. For one, FC Dallas beat Seattle 2-1 back in 2019 on two Seattle own goals. Another answer: my man Steve Jolley (an otherwise quality defender) once had two own goals in one game in a 4-1 FCD loss to the LA Galaxy in 2004.

I hope Liam Fraser‘s hamstring is all right. That looked bad on the last almost goal Nkosi Tafari saved. Fraser plays so much better when Asier Illarramendi is in there, the Canadian feeds off of Illarra’s confidence. And I loved Kos’ reaction to chasing down and killing off that play. Maarten Paes‘ reaction too.

Muy Feo

The first half was abysmal. There was zero confidence and zero ability to go forward. Often when building out FCD struggled to even get the back out of their 18. Even Illarramendi, who could at last receive the ball, was finding no one to work with. The Rapids press really exposed how weak FCD is at playing out of the back.

“We turned up to this game with fear, lacking determination and character. It is very difficult to play like that because Colorado is one of the hardest-working teams in the league on both sides of the ball. They took advantage of our start and it hurt us.”

Coach Nico Estevez

The switchfoot wingbacks didn’t do a whole lot for me. Both Arriola and Sealy looked uncomfortable trying to build. Arriola at least drew 4 fouls and got in 5 crosses. Sealy… yeah… it wasn’t a surprise he got yanked early.

Allowing the Rapids 15 shots isn’t horrible in and of itself, but 85% of the shots came inside the box. The Rapids ended up with an xG of 3.0. That’s nuts. The Dallas mid to low block was a mess, but frankly, everything they try is a mess right now.

“We are going through a difficult stretch at the moment to be honest. We suffered a lot today, and we lost out in key moments throughout the match. We need to learn how to regroup with each other throughout these moments and we need to learn how to push each other to give more effort.”

Jimmy Maurer

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. If people would quit criticizing the team and instead start praying for them and Nico things would start turning around.

  2. All you have to do is look at the starting lineup to understand the primary problem. You are starting 6 players who aren’t starting level quality. Junqua, Gonzalez, Ibeagha, Sealy, Fraser and Ansah are all backups at MLS level. They wouldn’t start for any other teams in the league except for the very worst. On top of that, you are playing one of your legit starters (Arriola) in a position that diminishes his effectiveness. It really doesn’t matter what formation you are using if you end up relying on so many reserve level players.
    The poor play is entirely predictable. Nothing else should be expected as long as the same players and formation are used.
    I’m curious to see if Estevez abandons the back 3 formation and reverts to the 4-3-3 against Houston. I’m also curious to see if he will bench Sealy. If he trots out a back 3 again and doesn’t win I think he gets fired.

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