The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo, May 2024

A point on the road against an arch-rival to take the Texas Derby feels like a win, particularly with as many missing midfielders as FCD is dealing with.

Given all the missing pieces, I feel FCD played well, in their way. Yes, it feels like FCD may break the record for ties this year. It ain’t pretty.

“Overall, the first 30 minutes were the best that we have played on the road combining good defensive work, good possessions and good plays. In the second half, we started a little bit slow but as the second half went on, we did a very good job creating chances and playing in their half, keeping the ball moving from one side to the other.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez again rolls with the 3-4-3 5-4-1. 19-year-old Nolan Norris makes his 3rd career start. The “experienced” 20-year-old Patrickson Delgado is next to him making his 6th start. Bernard Kamungo gets the start as the 3rd front-line player.

FC Dallas XI at Houston Dynamo, May 18, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at Houston Dynamo, May 18, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

53rd minute, Ema Twumasi had to come off for a knee contusion, Herbert Endeley replaced him.

65th, in what seems like a planned swap, the double-pivot – Norris and Patrickson – subbed off for Carl Sainte and Tsiki Ntsabeleng.

In the 81st, Logan Farrington and Sebastian Lletget came on for Jesus Ferreira and Petar Musa. That also felt planned.

Finally, FCD got an extra sub (see below) and brought on Eugene Ansah for Kamungo.

Houston Dynamo in a 4-2-3-1. After a mid-week rest, Hector Herrera is back in.

Houston Dynamo XI vs FC Dallas, May 18, 2024. (Courtesy Houston Dynamo)

68th minute, Latif Blessing replaced Sebastian Kowalczyk as the latter does a lot of running as a false-9 going way out to the edges.

73rd minute, Andrew Tarbell replaced Steve Clark for a head injury. This is what got FC Dallas the extra sub, even though Houston didn’t even use up all theirs.

83rd minute, McKinze Gaines and Tate Schmitt replaced Herrera and Daniel Steres. Unfortunately for Gaines, he blew his hammy and had to be subbed out 7 minutes later for Gabriel Segal.


1-0 Houston Dynamo goal. 51st minute. This is a really nice team passing goal. Clean finish by Amine Bassi… who ran right past Patrickson Delgado. Patrickson was late to react and didn’t get goal side of the danger man.

1-1 FC Dallas goal. 69th minute. Once again FCD takes advantage of a mistake. Sam Junqua presses Coco Carrasquilla into a turnover. Peter Musa passed to Jesus Ferreira, Ferreira to Bernie Kamungo, who found Musa again for the goal. A prototypical (current) FCD goal.

“We had good control of the game. But we need to do better. These games are defined in a very thin line. We created an amazing play which led to the goal. We need to create more of those chances.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Maarten Paes. 7 saves on the night, what a fantastic performance. For three years now I felt the great Dallas defense was just a good defense being elevated by Paes. That was for sure the case in this one.

“I felt really good, actually felt like no one could beat me. It’s one of those where you want to reward yourself with the clean sheet. Some good saves, some easy saves but there are no easy saves as a goalkeeper. Concentration was high, engagement was high and collectivity was good so it was a complete performance and we got a result.”

Maarten Paes

I thought Nolan Norris was excellent… for being 19 and facing HH, Coco, and Artur. It was unexpected he would be playing the linking role, but I loved it. He’s added some on-ball confidence to his game that I loved. 90% passing, 2 progressive passes (t-3rd), 1 key pass (t-2nd), 3 passes into the final third (t-2nd), 1 foul committed, 1 block, 3 clears, 1 intercept, and 2 recoveries. Only one of his passes was blocked, he had 1 miscontrol, and he was dispossed 0 times. 0 times! Gotta work on those yellows though. Including NTX, he’s got 6 yellows in 7 games.

Sam Junqua was excellent, so much of the build was through him. He was calming and controlling. An excellent performance, I considered him for my man of the match. 63 touches, 85% passing, 48 pass receptions (1st). Defensively: 2 tackles, 2 blocks, 5 clears, 4 recoveries, 28 carries led the team (many to relieve pressure).

Coach Nico Estevez seemed to be subbing to keep some important players as fresh as he can for Wednesday’s Cup game. Both the double subs seemed planned. The first to reduce the minute load on his youngsters and the 2nd to reduce the late-game, ball-chasing load on his key strikers.

I know this space isn’t usually about the other team, but man, Coco Carrasquilla is a heck of a player. I would steal him so fast if I were a billionaire MLS ower (Yes, Junqua caught him napping). He had 7 progressive passes and 5 shot-creating actions.

Peter Musa now had 4 goals in his last 5 games. The Moose is indeed loose.

Camino del Medio

I’m not going to complain about the 40% possession, which elevated after Hector Herrera was subbed off. When a club is missing as many mids as this one is, it leads them to be an even more bunkering, possession-adverse team than they already are.

Bernard Kamungo was hit and miss as he usually is. For the bulk of the game, he seems lost and was struggling to find the game. Then he had that amazing assist for the game-tying goal. I think he should start again in the Cup on Wednesday.

The 5-4-1 is even more boring than the 3-4-3 (Yes, they are sort of the same thing) but it’s working to get some results while the midfield is a disaster. DO I hate watching it? Yes, it’s awful. But FCD is slowly climbing out of the total bottom of the standings.

Muy Feo

To allow Houston to get a goal let in the half is a real drag. It’s difficult to stay mentally focused and no, the water breaks didn’t help.

“We felt like we could win this game. We had one of the best first halfs on the road this season tonight. We just had a moment late in the first half after the water break where we dropped our level.

Coach Nico Estevez

I hate water breaks in soccer. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.

The worst part about watching this game was actually the commentators. Both of whom were poor with multiple FCD-related factual errors and multiple misreads of the game in front of them.

Prior to the Dynamo meeting, FC Dallas had a record of 0-4-0 when trailing at halftime this season. Now it’s 0-4-1. Baby steps?

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

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