The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Minnesota United

The book says a point on the road is a good thing. That’s true, particularly when the game plan is set up for it. It’s not very entertaining, however.

“It’s really important coming off a loss and having two games away in a row like we had and not conceding to get a point and something positive. It’s difficult in this league to play away.”

FCD Head Coach Nico Estevez

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

I thought Coach Nico Estevez would go with a 4-4-2 on the road in Minnesota but he chose with the comfortable 4-3-3 for the game-kill phase. The 4-4-2 did come in late.

A muscle injury kept Nkosi Tafari out, Ema Twmusi came back after a poor game by Geovane Jesus, and Marco Farfan was rested with Sam Junqua in.

Alan Velasco was questionable but he was held out so Jader Obrian was in the XI. Edwin Cerrillo returned for Facundo Quignon.

FC Dallas XI at Minnesota United, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at Minnesota United, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Just two sub groups for Coach Nico in this one, group 1 in the 68th minute was Geovane Jesus and Marco Farfan for Ema Twumasi and Sam Junqua. Those are both subs for being fresh and holding the shutout.

Group 2 in the 78th minute was the formation swap to the 4-4-2 bringing on Facu and Jesus Jimenez for Edwin Cerrillo and Jader Obrian. While the 3nd striker is required for the 4, Coach seems to believe he needs Facu in MF for that too.

Minnesota United used a 4-2-3-1 and, according to the commentary, more offensive outside backs than usual.

Minnesota United FC XI vs FC Dallas, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy MNUFC)
Minnesota United FC XI vs FC Dallas, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy MNUFC)

Both the Loons subs were offensive as they seemed quite content with their defense. 64th minute, Franco Fragapane for Hassani Dotson, and then in the 70th minute Ménder García replaced Sang Bin Jeong.



Lo Bueno

Man of the Match: Maarten Paes. 5 pretty big saves and one huge one that ended up not counting for offside. Paes has helped FCD to a ton of points the last two seasons, turning losses into ties and ties into wins with big timely saves. This team would likely have missed the playoffs last year without him.

Maarten Paes was terrific against Minnesota United FC, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
Maarten Paes was terrific against Minnesota United FC, April 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Speaking of Paes, FCD got a shutout. This was only the 2nd shutout of the year. We talked a couple of weeks ago about this need. FCD can’t keep giving up 1+ goal a game. You need clean sheets to get ties and wins.

“It felt good to get a clean sheet tonight, especially after last week’s performance. It was a tough away game because Minnesota played with a lot of intensity. Luckily, we were able to shut the door on them and didn’t allow any goals in.”

Maarten Paes

Sam Junqua was solid. Marco Farfan is real quality and it was hard to tell Junqua was in there. FCD desperately needed a good backup after burning out Farfan last year. Hell, MF looked tired last week and it’s just week 10. Terrific for team health and season-long play.

I continue to really enjoy the FCD formation changes on the fly during games. This one needed a sub to make it happen but the tactical flexibility to make changes into multiple shapes is a real bonus. Most of FCD’s good chances came late and were triggered by the change of shape. This was the shape I wanted to FCD to play in this game but I forgot to account for the Nico kill mentality on the road.

Camino del Medio

I’m ok with the choice to hold Alan Velasco out for this one. Road game in the cooler temps? Yes, keep him out. That’s a good choice (if the coach even had the choice). But oh man does AV missing kill the offense. He attracts so much attention and distracts the defense. It’s not just what he can do with the ball, it’s the space that opens cause defenders are hesitating and reacting to his every movement.

No one really likes it, but Coach Nico wants his team to kill the game and keep scoring down. FCD lost a pretty low number of road games last year grinding out ties with games just like this. 60-70 minutes of nothing and then cautiously go for the road steal late. That’s the idea even if it’s dreadful soccer.

Muy Feo

This game was quite dour offensively by FCD. Six shots with just two on net is not good. We’ve mentioned the missing Velasco but it’s more than that. Sebastian Lletget remains a bit flat. Paxton Pomykal still needs to find more connections in the box. Paul Arriola had a batter game than he has of late, thankfully.

“I’m not sure. I think he [Jesus Ferreira] had a quiet game. Seemed a little bit disinterested. I think that’s in part [due] to our shape and how we were able to pressure anytime they were trying to get the ball to their frontmen. Obviously, they had a lot of joy through their six, but as soon as they got into our final third I thought  everyone across the back four. The midfield worked hard to limit their time on the ball in those areas.”

Minnesota Defender Michael Boxall

The all-white kit is dreadful. The top, while interesting up close, from anything beyond 10 feet looks like dirty white. And all-white against the Loons all-black is boring. This was a throwback to the horrible every game is white vs back of 4-5 years ago. This kit badly needs the black shorts and if FCD dared to put red socks with it that would be ssiiiccckkkk. There’s no reason the black shorts can’t be worn against the black shorts of the other team.

Get well soon, Nkosi Tafari. Please, please, please.

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