The Breakdown – FC Dallas at LAFC, June 2024

While game two of these tough three games on the road was still a loss, the FC Dallas performance as a collective against LAFC was better.

“This game was the most complete performance we’ve had this year. In every aspect, on the defensive and offensive side.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez continued with the 3-4-3 and the (deserved) selection of Patrickson Delgado at the 10.

The FC Dallas XI at LAFC, June 1, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
The FC Dallas XI at LAFC, June 1, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

At halftime, Paul Arriola came on for Ema Twumasi who was struggling a bit with the knee he injured last week. “We’ll see how Ema (Twumasi) is doing but I think it’s just soreness,” said Coach Estevez.

67th minute, Sebastian Lletget came on for Delgado who was looking pretty tired with the heavy minute load of late.

84th minute, Bernard Kamungo, Dante Sealy, and Logan Farrington came on for Marco Farfan, Jesus Ferreira, and Liam Fraser. FCD swapped into a 4-4-2 at this point.

The late game FCD XI vs LAFC, June 1, 2024.

Even though the graphic is upside down, LAFC is good enough to give us a shape. It’s a 4-3-3 for Coach Steve Cherundolo.

The LAFC XI vs FC Dallas, June 1, 2024. (Courtesy LAFC)

In the 78th minute, up 1-0, LAFC brought on our friend Ryan Hollingshead for Omar Campos.

Then in the 88th minute, Jesús Murillo and Kei Kamara came on for Eduard Atuesta and Mateusz Bogusz.


0-1 LAFC goal. 74th minute. The critical mistake here for me is Liam Fraser overreaching to close down Ilie Sánchez. Sanchez isn’t a big danger there and should be getting closed down by one of the 10s anyway, either Jesus Ferreira or Sebastian Lletget. Sanchez finds Mateusz Bogusz on the move into the space vacated by Fraser and he plays an inch-perfect pass into the gap for Denis Bouanga. Parul Arriola clearly keeps him onside, as does Omar Gonzalez I think. There’s no stopping Bouanga at that point and he scores.

“We just have to take our chances in both boxes. We’ll have to watch the game back and the goal we conceded to see what we can do better.”

Liam Fraser

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Maarten Paes. Career high 9 saves and FCD PR points out it’s his 5th game in a row with 5 plus saves. More on this down below but damn this dude is good.

Sam Junqua is FC Dallas’ best crosser. He’s also probably the most balanced offense/defense option they have at either wingback spot. Cross from the left or cutting inside (inverted wingback?) on the right to shoot – the latter is something he loves to do and he prefers right back to left back cause of this. Too bad Coach Estevez has him locked into the left center back spot. Given that switch-foot outside backs can be a very modern high-level play, one wonders why FCD doesn’t do this. It would even let them use Bernie Kamungo as one of the “10s” as he could stretch wide and let Junqua play underneath.

Speaking of offense/defense balance at wingback, Paul Arriola instantly brought that to the field when he came on. You saw FCD’s offense get a big lift. Paul isn’t as good a defender of course (see the LAFC goal) but other than that oddside misplay he was pretty solid. Good enough that I would like to see more.

You might say this was a bit of an off night for Asier Illarramendi, he was a bit sloppier with the ball than normal. But he was still fantastic with 91% passing with 13 progressive passes, 4 shots creating actions, 2 progressive carries, 6/7 on tackles, 3 blocks, 2 intercepts, 4 recoveries, and 16 passes into the final third.

Camino del Medio

Omar Gonzalez was pretty solid. I’ve certainly seen worse. The only time he was exposed was on the goal. I don’t think playing him every game is the right call, but rotating him in to get some of the CBs rest would be nice.

Jesus Ferreira still looks to my naked eye like a man playing through discomfort. He doesn’t look like the same guy. I certainly hope I’m wrong and it’s just injury recovery rather than say a lingering hernia that needs surgery.

A bit of a step back by Patrickson Delgado, I think he got worn out. I still buy that he’s the best option there and he’s covering the entire field like a box-to-box 8. Leonel Messi would tell him to run less. 2/4 on take-ons, 83% passing, 2 shot-creating actions, and 8 progressive receptions as the team wants to go through him. 12 touches in the final third – compared to Jesus Ferreira’s 24 – but 2 in the box when Ferreira had none.

Patrickson Delgado heat map, playing like a box-to-box 8. (Courtesy

Muy Feo

Here’s the thing, Maarten Paes is amazing night after night. But when your keeper is making 5+ saves a game and getting Man of the Match repeatedly, that’s not good. Yes, FCD game plan is to keep the shots from deep and wide, but that didn’t work against LA Galaxy. Allowing over 50% of shots (10 of 17) on target is bad. 53% of shots inside the box, yeah, rough. 1.3 xG allowed might be ok, if…

Overall offensive production just isn’t good enough. 9 shots? Sure, there have been days FCD has lived and won on 9 shots… but 3 on target? that’s not going to get it done. You can win on 9 shots if 6 are on target and several are on the net. 0.5 xG. The best chance of the night was from Petar Musa from midfield. 55% possession is some of the best of the year, but it’s not getting resulting opportunities.

“The only thing that we were missing today was the last pass in the final third. Besides that, playing away we dominated possession the way we wanted, drawing their press, creating chances. It’s a pity that we weren’t clean enough in the last third to get a goal.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. Nico said it was the most complete game of the season. Yet the broadcast team referred to FCD as a train wreck in the firs half.

    1. Dunny and bretos were too busy talking about stuff to really pay attention to the gameplay.
      Also Dallas didn’t finish their good possession sequence with a shot so nothing memorable happened to make the announcers take notice.

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