The Breakdown: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids, May 29

Make no mistake, the scoreline says this loss to the Rapids was a tail kicking and, in the end, the scoreline is all that matters.  Seriously, score goals. Everything else is just fluff.

It’s MLS – we have to win. If you don’t win then you’re not going in the right direction in MLS.

Luchi Gonzalez

But Oscar Pareja used to say that sometimes to analyze how your team is actually playing you have to throw out the goals.  So we’re going look at that too.

If you look at the stats we had more duels, we had more possessions, and we had more shots but we lost 3-0. It’s a cruel game and I take full responsibility. 

Luchi Gonzalez

Bottom line, FC Dallas sits in last place in the Western Conference. Yes, there are teams worse off in the east, but Dallas’ 1-3-3 record actually matches their record after the first seven games of 2003… and we all know how that turned out.

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Luchi Gonzalez stuck with the same 4-1-4-1 lineup that got the club so many shots last week. I think calling it a 4-1-4-1 is a bit disingenuous as I think plays like the same basic single-pivot 4-3-3 with Franco Jara just playing a higher line.

But whatevs.

FC Dallas XI at Colorado Rapids, May 29, 2021. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Down two goals at halftime, Gonzalez makes two subs: Johnny Nelson for Eddie Munjoma and Paxton Pomykal for Freddy Vargas.

Ricardo Pepi replaced Tanner Tessmann in the 69th minute. Then Coach G closed it out with another double sub as Kalil ElMedkhar (MLS debut) replaced Jader Obrian and Ema Twumasi (season debut) replaced the laboring Jose Martinez.

Rapids in a 4-2-3-1 under Coach Robin Fraser.

Rapids XI vs FC Dallas, May 29, 2021. (Courtesy MLS)

In the 57th minute, Andre Shinyashiki replaced Jonathan Lewis – who seemed to have injured himself.  In the 74th minute, Drew Moor replaced Michael Barrios in an all-Ex-FC Dallas sub. Nicolas Benezet replaced Nicolás Mezquida at that same time.  Finally, homegrown Oliver Larraz came on for Diego Rubio in the 80th minute.


0-1 Rapids goal. 13th minute.  A poor build-out by Dallas lets Colorado play into the danger zone and lay off to Keegan Rosenberry.  Rosenberry isn’t tracked by Freddy Vargas and has days to set up a blast for the goal.

0-2 Rapids goal. 41st minute.  Michael Barrios with a fantastic offside beating header sets up Auston Trusty for the shot with Jimmy Maurer redirects only for it to bounce in off Tanner Tessmann for an own goal.  

0-3 Rapids goal. 71st minute.  Michael Barrios beats Jose Martinez on the long outlet, cuts inside, pump fakes Martinez, and shoots a banger for the goal.

Yup, Golazo.

Barrios has now scored or assisted against every team in the Western Conference except Austin FC.

Lo Bueno

Andres Ricaurte was my Man of the Match for the second straight match. He’s been freed up now that Bryan Acosta is playing higher next to him.  84% passing, 83 touches, 3 key passes (led FCD), 71% of duels won, xAssist of .45, 3 dribbles, and 11 recoveries.  Look at this activity into the box (FCD is attacking right to left in the image).

Andres Ricaurte pass and shot chart at Colorado Rapids (attacking right to left), May 29, 2021. (Courtesy MLS)

Shot creation was again off the relative charts.  21 shots – after 29 last week – the previous high this season was 13.  That’s a vast improvement and it’s down to the tweaked formation and tactical adaptation of Acosta and Jara.  This is a positive step.  FCD out possessed Colorado 66% to 33% as well.

There was actually a bunch of encouraging play from Dallas in May, but they don’t finish their chances so they only won once. They’ll head into the break at the bottom of the West because of it.

Matt Doyle

Terrific to see Paxton Pomykal sub in at halftime. As I’ve suggested, if Luchi is targeting June 19th for Pomykal’s first start then Paxton needed to get 45 in this one. Now he’ll get a couple of weeks of fitness and he should be good for 60+ against Minnesota.

Awesome PK save by Jimmy Maurer. The dude has a knack for it, it seems.

Camino del Medio

Eddie Munjoma was making an offensive breakthrough. He was finally getting forward and making passes into the box.  Munjoma had 3 key passes – tied with Ricaurte to lead FC Dallas for the day – and 4 shot-creating actions – 3rd on the team for the game – by halftime… and was subbed out.  Granted he only had 1 defensive action. But honestly, I don’t think Eddie contributed to the two Rapids goals… so it’s kind of a head-scratching sub.  Head-scratching subs are a trend this year.

Freddy Vargas was having a rough day and I wasn’t surprised he was lifted at the half. But when I went to the numbers he was better than I expected.  He had 2 shots with 1 on goal and 2 key passes.  He led the team with 6 shot-creating actions. But just 1 successful dribble and too much of his work is coming way outside the box. He’s not getting into danger spots inside the box or underneath in zone 14.  So I still think there is some potential here even if I do think it’s time for him to sit.

Muy Feo

Jose Martinez is clearly playing through an injury of some kind. It wasn’t visible in training during the week but it sure was in this game.  Something I’ve been saying for most of 2021 is that this roster is short a center back. Forget about how short it is if they want to play three at the back, I’m just talking standard 4 defender back lines that need 2 center backs.  I’ve long felt 5 center backs was the minimum to carry on a 30 man MLS roster. It’s too important a position and you need two of them in each game.  Add in Nkosi Tafari being a project still and really FCD only has 3 reliable choices there… which is clearly not enough.

Martinez’s unknown injury status was at least partially obvious in FCDs failure to close down shooters.  This was a massive problem all night and contributed to all the goals.  The lack of a pure 6 is also clear in this problem area. Far too often Rapids shooters coming out of midfield were free to line up bombs. Martinez couldn’t really close. Bressan tried, often moving across the formation to do it. But Tanner Tessmann, and to a certain extent Ricaurte and Acosta, didn’t do near enough closing down of shooters.

All three of the FC Dallas front-line players were fairly poor in this game. 

Jader Obrian is no exception. Just 2 for 4 on dribbles.  Only 70% pass reception, resulting in 4 fumbled passes. 0 stopped opposition dribbles. 1 offside, 1 dispossession, 2 fouls drawn, and maybe 15 PK claims.  I’m starting to worry if he’s getting a reputation for going down soft.  One of the things that often takes some adjustment for South American players is the lack of calls here in this physical league. Obrian needs to fight through some tackles and get a couple of goals. That will earn him more benefit of the doubt when he goes do down hard in the box.

Now this is where it starts to get ridiculous. Franco Jara’s finishing is just really poor. He had 8 shots. EIGHT.  Just 3 on target. He could have had three goals in the first 15 minutes and you could argue he should have for 4 or 5.  Jara had 10 touches in the box. TEN!  Combine that with a really poor – even for Jara – 46% pass reception and that’s a brutal day.  He was 1 for 4 in aerial duels – a striker bread and butter – and 0 for 1 on dribbles.  He had just 1 shot-creating action. Just 1.

We have seven shots to two the first 12 minutes and they scored on their second shot and we didn’t score on our first seven. We’re not efficient right now and, again, that’s the game we play. Colorado fans are happy. They didn’t dominate the game but they dominated this score.

Luchi Gonzalez

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

Next Game

FC Dallas now has a long time to sit and stew in last place. They don’t play again until June 19th against Minnesota United.  7:30 kickoff at Toyota Stadium.

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