The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Inter Miami

A road win and a shutout! Nice. Not sexy really, but there are some positives here to build on.

“It feels amazing, we come on the road to get points in their home. What motivated the team is that we know we will struggle playing away from home but we can always fight to get a result. In the end, we got the win and three points in a hard-fought match.”

Jesus Ferreira

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

Surprisingly, my unconfident prediction came true and we got the holy trinity lineup of three Jesuses in a 4-2-3-1: Jesus Ferreira, Jesus Jimenez, and Geovane Jesus. More on that later but I think it was really a 4-4-2.

We also say Facundo Quignon in a more stay-at-home 6 role of a double pivot.

The FC Dallas XI at Inter Miami, April 8, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

At the 60th minute, in what must be a minute restriction, Sebastian Lletget came on for Jesus Jimenez in a straight swap. Even though most people think of Lletget as a midfielder, we’ve seen him work as a forward in training in a two-striker set.

At the 71st minute came the tactical change. Edwin Cerrillo, Sebas Ibeagha, and Jader Obrian came on for Paul Arriola, Paxton Pomykal, and Jesus Ferreira as coach Nico Estevez switched to a 5-4-1.

Then in the 75th minute, Ema Twumiasi came in for Geovane in a fresh legs sub.

Inter Miami came out in a 3-5-2. (Doyle called it a 4-4-2 but MLS, whoscored, and fbref all said 3 at the back with 2 strikers).

Inter Miami's XI vs FC Dallas on April 8, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)
Inter Miami’s XI vs FC Dallas on April 8, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)

Down a goal, Miami changed two of their three attackers to try and get back in it as Corentin Jean replaced Nicolás Stefanelli and Rodolfo Pizarro replaced Leonardo Campana.

In the 79th minute, Coach Phil Neville tried again, taking out his third striker and a wide mid for a striker by bringing on Shanyder Borgelin and Ariel Lassiter for Josef Martínez and Robert Taylor.

Then at the 94th-minute mark, Coah Neville subbed on his son, Harvey Neville at right CB for DeAndre Yedlin.


FC Dallas 1-0. 27th minute.

Geovane Jesus to Jesus Ferreira to Jesus Jimenz and back for the goal. Good foray forward by Geovane, but the key component is how Jimenez and Ferreira are working off of each other.

Lo Bueno

Man of the Match: Jesus Ferreira. With his goal, Ferreira (22 years, 105 days old) became the youngest player in MLS history to reach 40 career regular-season goals. On top of that, he just played well. A slight caveat that he could have maybe had 3 but his positioning and shots selection were both good. Since he came out of the Academy, I’ve said the FCD legend Jesus most resembles isn’t his dad Davis but rather Jason Kries.

That’s why I love this pic.

Jesus Ferreira and club legend Jason Kreis (current Miami ast. coach) prior to the FCD game vs Inter, April 8, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
Jesus Ferreira and club legend Jason Kreis (current Miami ast. coach) prior to the FCD game vs Inter, April 8, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

“It’s a great recognition but that is something that I did not have in the back of my mind heading into the game. I always say that I want to break records with this team, but I am happy and proud of this team. This group has pushed me and helped me get to that position of where I am now. I am happy to be the holder of that title.”

Jesus Ferreira

Jesus Jimenez and the tactical change work terrifically. JJ’s movement is really good and he distracts center backs, making them lay off and creating room for Ferreira to work as an off-striker. In fact, the goal came through this interaction. More, please.

Let’s get more specific. Because Ferreira is at his best as an off-striker and we don’t want to see him back in midfield, this formation – particularly defensively – is really more of a 4-4-2 than a 4-2-3-1. Granted, given the nature of modern fluid tactics, which way you draw it up is kind of a semantic. The key aspect is Jesus staying in the pocket as the off-striker. If he’s dropping into midfield next to Facu and Paxton Pomykal… well, that’s not what we want.

“When the opponent [FCD] plays with two forwards it’s difficult for the backline [Miami] to deal with them because the center backs tend to be aggressive. And if we can move them out of their backline to create space in behind, we wanted to be aggressive and have Jesús (Jiménez) as a holding forward we could transition in a different way. I think it helped us a lot.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Without the ball for very much (32% possession) FCD still managed 16 shots – that’s a really good total on the road – with 8 shots on goal. 50% on target is fantastic, that’s what we want from this version of FC Dallas. Remember, FCD is at its best in transition off a turnover, on a recovery, or after a press break. The Miami keeper had 7 saves. 69% of FCD shots came in the box as well. Anytime you force the other keeper into large numbers of saves is a win on my board. You will win a lot of games making the opposition keeper stand on his head.

“Playing away is always difficult and generating chances is difficult. I think we did a very good job generating those chances, we were less a possession-based team because we knew we could be more vertical in this game and it worked very well. Drake (Callender, Miami goalkeeper) had an amazing night and kept his team fighting until the last minute to tie.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Credit to Facundo Quignon, he was much better in a double-pivot. Granted Miami kind of abandoned the middle (26% of attacked central) but Facu led FCD in passing pct (86%), total passes (50), touches (61), was good in long passing (5 for 8), tackles (2 for 3), and had 2 key passes.

Camino del Medio

FC Dallas did to Miami what most other teams do to FC Dallas. Mid to low block. Dallas ended up with 32% possession and the longer the game went on the lower FCD played their block. Score a goal and then kill the game. And that worked, even if it wasn’t sexy over the final 25 minutes. Miami tried to go around the block and all but abandoned the middle.

FC Dallas was very lopsided right, 44% down that side. 33% middle and 23% left. Partially this is because of the success they were having down that side and Geovane Jesus was really pressing the line. But also, Alan Velasco plays as a false wing and comes underneath all the time. Farfan had five touches past midfield.

When Jesus Jiminez gets fully engrained with this team – 14 pass receptions, only 44% passing, but he still had 2 key passes – I think this setup will look even better. A new formation with a new key piece needs time to grow.

Muy Feo

The pack-it-in shift to the 5-4-1 came really early in my mind. 20 plus minutes of bunker ball is a LOT of bunker ball. Perhaps a full bunker wasn’t the intention? But that’s how it worked. Your front group needs to keep playing, value the ball, hold possession, and relieve pressure or else you get an endless stream of crosses and chances. A complete passive shutdown isn’t to my liking.

Why is DeAndre Yedlin playing right center back and not right back or wing back? What a mess.

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