The Breakdown: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo – October 7, 2020

The Breakdown is an appropriate name for this one as this game broke down on several levels.   Let’s face it, this is a bad beat and when the entire second half is played up a man it makes a lot of the analysis unproductive. Still, there are some – obviously mostly negative – takeaways.

FCD has now been held scoreless in three of the last four games.

It’s a weird sensation when you feel like the team is going in the right direction in terms of football integrity and how we’re trying to work and improve, controlling the game, attacking and pressing and creating more. 

FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez.

Let’s break it down…

Lineups and Tactics

It’s never a surprise to see the 4-3-3 from Coach G and the same lineup continues for the 2nd straight game. 

FC Dallas XI at Houston Dynamo, October 7, 2020.

Bressan was a 33rd minute sub for the injured Matt Hedges.  Then at halftime Thiago Santos was lifted for Tanner Tessmann.

Chasing the game, Coach Gonzalez brought in Jesus Ferreira for Bryan Acosta in the 64th minute. Then getting desperate FCD made an 83rd-minute double-sub of Dante Sealy and Ricardo Pepi for Reto Ziegler and Fafa Picault

Houston is listed in a 4-3-3 as well.  

Houston Dynamo XI vs FC Dallas, October 7, 2020.

Looking to exploit the counter, Coach Tab Ramos swapped Christian Ramirez for Darwin Quintero and Niko Hansen for Ariel Lassiter in the 70th minute.  Then made two time-killing moves in the 94th and 100th minutes: Zarek Valentin for Sam Junqua and Wilfried Zahibo for José Bizama.


0-1 Houston Dynamo goal. 20th minute. Thiago Santos gives up the ball too easily in midfield and Houston pounces.  Ariel Lassiter quickly finds Darwin Quintero – who has drifted loose between Hedges and Ziegler – for a simple goal.

These key moments we lose a little bit of concentration in a transition moment and we give away that first goal. So that’s something that we have to reflect on and own it.

 Luchi Gonzalez

0-2 Houston Dynamo goal. 83rd minute.  Darwin Cerén converts the PK.

The PK Foul

Bryan Reynolds is left alone as Houston counters. Darwin Cerén plays to Christian Ramirez, who Reynolds closes down only for the ball to go back to Cerén. Reynolds tries to get back, slide tackles, and misses the ball as Cerén taps it away and draws the foul.

We shot ourselves in the foot in key moments. Yes, they have good attacking players but at the end we gave them these two goals. We can’t be happy with the performances defensively. Losing and taking another goal 10 (men) against 11, it cannot happen.

Reto Ziegler

El Bueno

Jimmy Maurer was my Man of the Match.  He was tremendous and remains a rock in the back.  4 saves in this one kept FCD from getting blown out in the first half.  This double stop came when Matt Hedges was off and Bressan had yet to sub in.

Andres Ricarute did just about all he could.  2 shots – one of which was almost a goal from midfield and the other hit the post – and six key passes. A staggering 118 touches, 84% passing, 3 dribbles, 3 drawn fouls, 13 crosses, 8 for 9 on long balls, and he was dispossessed just one time.  Amazing. 

Andres Ricaurte passing chart vs Houston Dynamo, October 7, 2020. (Courtesy MLS)

This was also a strong game by Bryan Acosta, I wasn’t surprised he was annoyed at going off. He had 5 key passes, 4 of which came in the first half while the game was even. 89% passing, 8 of 9 on long balls. 4 shots but only 1 on target, that needs to be better.

Being into kits, I was pleased to see logic prevail with MLS allowing both teams to wear their “light” uniforms.  Houston’s “light” orange kit against FCD’s “dark” red kit isn’t great.  FCD in white with the all-important blue shorts looks good.

Glad Bressan wasn’t hurt. Hopefully, his knee doesn’t swell from travel etc.  Based on the info I have, neither Nkosi Burgess (with NTXSC) nor Callum Montgomery (with SAFC) has covid anti-bodies so both would have to quarantine if they were to return to FCD… which can’t happen by Sunday I wouldn’t think.

Camino del Medio

Michael Barrios swapped to the right for much of the second half because he was the only player taking on defenders and, I assume, was looking to get the ball onto his right foot and shoot. There are three problems with that in my mind. First, all defenders are going to cheat him to the line, not inside, so getting onto the right foot is much harder. Second, after being shepherded to the end line Barrios now has to cross on his bad left foot.  Third, the best way to break a low block is tight combo play that he and Reynolds have shown they do well together.  So while Barrios looked dangerous, it never really seemed like it put the goal in danger.

Muy Feo

72% possession is great and it was at 65% as halftime so it wasn’t just a man up.  FC Dominated play, had 42 crosses, and got 28 shots for it… but they need to be better chances. 54% of shots from outside the box isn’t good. Only 4 of the 12 first-half shots came from inside.  In the 2nd half, 5 of the 8 shots from outside were blocked and none got on target.  Of the 7 shots inside the box, mostly headers, 3 of them were on goal and those three were right to the keeper.  It has to be better.

I think in and around the box when we’re committing numbers forward, if we can get a little more of a dynamic attack in terms of more elusive, surprise, maybe the cross is a little quicker, these half seconds and micro-moments that we have to keep improving.

Luchi Gonzalez

Thiago Santos looked slow, tired, and mistake-prone. His giveaway led to the Houston opening goal. It was no shock he was lifted at the half.  He’s so important for his experience and defense in midfield – not that it mattered in the 2nd half – it’s going to be a real burden if he can only play one game a week.

FC Dallas continues to be unable to break down a low block.  This is a trend now for several seasons, I feel. They are just too static and not reacting enough chaos.  Players attacking gaps and playing tight combos is the best way to break one and FCD is light on people who can do that without Paxton Pomykal.

The double-sub basically left Jesus Ferreira – who had some on for Acosta – or Tanner Tessmann as the “holding mids” with Bressan as the lone center back both outside backs were way up at that point.   Jesus that deep and not attacking probably isn’t the best plan. I would imagine he came on for Acosta hoping he could do something in the attacking third.

Next Game

FC Dallas hosts Minnesota United on Sunday at 7:30 pm CT at Toyota Stadium. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo.

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