The Breakdown – FC Dallas at LAFC

FC Dallas took on the defending champs LAFC on Saturday in the MLS night capper and, despite a rally, didn’t get any points.

Yes, the start was brutal, but on the road at LAFC – a place FCD has never won – against the defending champs, down a man for a big chunk of the game… it’s not a result that upsets me too much even with LAFC being shorthanded. There’s no need to dismantle the team or anything.

Yes, the team has some issues to work on, but that’s what coaches are paid for is it not?

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

With the surprise absence of Sebastian Lletget (personal business), the precautionary FC Dallas move of Paxton Pomykal to the bench (hamstring soreness), and the absence of Jose Martinez (knee injury), Coach Nico Estevez modified his formation to one he hasn’t used much at all, the 4-2-3-1. At times it often looked more like a 4-4-2 when defending but it was a double-pivot at its base.

The FC Dallas XI at LAFC on March 25, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
The FC Dallas XI at LAFC on March 25, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

After Ema Twumasi was red-carded in the 35th minute, Coach Estevez brought on Geovane Jesus for Jader Obrian and shifted the team into a 4-4-1.

Then in the 70th minute, FCD made a double sub of Jesus Jimenez for Alan Velasco and Tsiki Ntsabeleng for Facundo Quignon.

After scoring and then conceding again, Estevez rolled the dice with Sam Junqua and Jose Mulato for Marco Farfan and Paul Arriola.

LAFC played in a 4-3-3. Yes, it’s drawn upside down.

LAFC XI vs FC Dallas on March 25, 2023. (Courtesy LAFC)

LAFC only made 2 subs both in the 65th minute, Aaron Long for Jesús Murillo and Dénis Bouanga for Stipe Biuk.


LAFC 0-1. 3rd minute.

Brutal start by FCD with a terrible giveaway trying to build out of the back. You knew it would make a certain Twitter feed. Timothy Tillman converts.

FC Dallas 1-1. 66th miunte.

Nkosi Tafari finds the loose ball on a set play. Massive.

LAFC 1-2. 84th minute.

A corner goes long and somehow this clunker of a cross goes in. Maarten Paes and Sebas Ibeagha are left looking at each other. Goal credited to Dénis Bouanga.

Lo Bueno

Man of the Match: Nkosi Tafari. This is his second nod in the last three games. A goal and a strong performance. He’s FCD’s best defender this year so far as the season of Nkosi continues.

“I’d actually like it if we were on the other end of three points instead of centerbacks scoring goals.”

Nkosi Tafari

Mentality” is Coach Esetevez’s word of the season. FCD showed some again coming back down a man to score. They went on to mostly keep LAFC in check despite FC Hollywood having much more possession in the second half. Showing this grit on the road is a good thing.

“At halftime, we talked about having a special group of players with special characteristics. We had to go out there and recognize that those first 15 minutes of the half were poor. We had to believe that even with 10-men we can still attack, connect, counter and even score.”

Coach Nico Estevez

My Edwin Cerrillo promotional campaign continues – 91% passing (T-1st), 69 touches (1st), 53 passes (T-1st), 11 duels (T-2nd), 35 carries (1st), 3 progressive carries (1st), and 6 recoveries (3rd).

Congrats to Marco Farfan for appearing in his 100th MLS match.  He had his hands full with Ryan Hollingshead who was in a mood.

Camino del Medio

I have little to say about Sebastian Lletget being out other than when in combo with a precautionary move to the bench for Paxton Pomykal is took apart the FCD midfield. Edwin Cerrillo in a double-pivot with Facundo Quignon is not the droids I’m looking for. Cerrillo with Pomykal would be. The Cerrillo/Quignon left too much progression weight on Alan Velasco. AV, once he got into the game, did fairly well (3 key passes) and the shape is a nice addition.

Have been thinking about the concept expressed in this tweet for a couple of games now and I stand by it.

Muy Feo

The start by FCD was really poor. I know it, you know it, the players know it, and the coach knows it.

“I will say we didn’t play good the first 15 minutes of the match and that goal [LAFC] scored is what resulted because of it. We have to be critical and take a look at ourselves first.”

Coach Nico Estevez

We already knew this, but a high press from the opposition gives FCD trouble. This defense’s biggest weakness remains passing out of the back. I’ll be honest, this isn’t the area I thought FCD would most be impacted by with the departure of Matt Hedges.

Obviously, the red card to Ema Twumasi wasn’t good. Gotta keep that arm down kid. For those that have been calling for it, it seems probable you’ll get a Geovane Jesus start next week.

There continues to be a disconnect between Jader Obrian and the rest of the team. According to he had 9 touches in his 40 minutes. 9! That’s almost a whole half of soccer with 9 touches. By comparison, Jesus had 32 in his 49 minutes. Obrian isn’t playing great, but it’s not just poor choices, he’s not even involved. Gotta get involved in the game, man.

The leading shot taker for FCD was… *checks notes* Facundo Quignon. Yeah, that’s also not the droids I’m looking for either.

Also, This Pic is Amazing!

Nkosi Tafari scores against LAFC, March 25, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. I’m sure you guys will cover this in the pod this week, but I’m really curious to see what the contingency plan is for a potentially extended stretch without Lletget.
    I am so incredibly done with Obrian at this point. While his role in wiping out Cerillo’s goal comes down to a bit of bad luck, he just seems to be playing on his own planet out there.
    Thank goodness for Nkosi. Without him, I think this team would be in a much, much more tenuous spot right now.

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