What a disjointed game this was. FCD was in a clog it up low-block and Minnesota United looked like a desperate team battling relegation. They were flying all over the place with little plan it seemed (10 tackles won, 10 fouls).
Once again, you saw the fight, the relentlessness, and the effort from all the boys, putting in shift after shift.Will Trapp
With the loss, FC Dallas briefly dropped into last in the West but after the Sunday results sit 12th out of 13 ahead of LAFC on goal difference having scored 1 more goal.
Let’s break it down.
Lineups and Tactics
FC Dallas Coach Luchi Gonzalez opts for the 3-man back line again… but given that context I was super pleased he went 3-5-2. Getting that extra man in midfield prevented them from being overrun like they were in San Jose. Freddy Vargas made way to make the shape happen with the return of Matt Hedges.
In his first move of the day in the 66th minute, Coach G brought on Szabolcs Schon at left wingback shifting Ryan Hollingshead to right wingback. We’ll have a lot more on this sub down below and on the podcast this week.
73rd minute, Ricardo Pepi replaced Franco Jara. Then in the 78th minutes, it was a double sub of Paxton Pomykal and Dante Sealy for Andres Ricaurte and Jader Obrian.
Adrian Heath deployed his United side in a 4-2-3-1.
64th minute, Ramon Abila replaced Ethan Finley.
Then late in injury time trying kill off the game, Jacori Hayes replaced Emanuel Reynoso.
0-1 Minnesota United goal. 94th minute. A Minnesota United corner bounces is saved at the post by Juan Martinez only for Robin Lod to drive home the loose rebound.
Bryan Acosta is my Man of the Match for the 2nd straight game. He really is playing some amazing soccer and he’s the team’s clear MVP through 5 games. 83 touches, 91% passing, 2 shots (both over on free kicks, that could be better), 3 dribbles, drew 2 fouls, 2 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 for 6 on long balls, 20 pressures, 75% of duels won, 37 carries, and 15 recoveries.
Bryan had a great preseason. We had a moment in the offseason (where) he was disappointed with 2020: injuries, just lack of form and consistency… He wasn’t available in the playoff run. He came in very motivated in the preseason and he’s just showing the product of that focus and desire to have his best season so far.Luchi Gonzalez
Phelipe had 5 saves on the night against 23 shots (9 blocked shots, 13 off-target). He’s looking much. much better to my eyes than last year. He’s quicker laterally and in reaction saves to go with this solid shot-stopping. He looks much lighter and agile to me. Did he drop some weight this off-season? Whatever it is, I like the change. His 69% passing could be a little better, particularly the 4 for 14 on long passes.
Jose Martinez, despite giving up the rebound for the goal, has established himself as a reliable and steady influence in the back. I thought he was FCD’s best defender on the day. 70 touches combined with Hollingshead’s 59 touches means a lot of the play went up the left side. 85% passing, 1 tackle, 3 intercepts, 4 clearances, 4 blocks, and 0 fouls.
We had worked hard, prepared well during the week, and we had the ambition to come here and get three points. Games can be decided by small details, and it’s what happened today. We have to keep on going. This team has a lot of character and we must remain calm. We will keep on going on the path we are going to succeed and we are already planning to work ahead.Jose Martinez
Camino del Medio
We’ll be talking a lot more about 3 at the back on the podcast this week as there are plenty of downsides. But in the back-3 context, the 3-5-2 formation is the much better choice than the 3-4-3. First, it uncovers the wingbacks and you can see how much more effective Ryan Hollingshead was compared to the San Jose game. Second, having Andres Ricaurte in midfield meant there was a 3v3 balance all day and they weren’t getting overrun. So I wanted to see the 3-5-2 and I applauded it’s use…. again, given a back 3.
10 offsides is a lot. Seriously, that’s nuts. But a lot of it is down to the new formation and two guys not used to play in it. It felt like this week was “play a high line” in training cause both Jara and Obrian were pushing as high as they could. Jara being slow was trying to cheat and was getting caught. With Obrian it was a combo of overrunning play and a couple of poor choices. Give me Ricardo Pepi & Jesus Ferreira in this shape, please. Ricaurte was slinging some sweet passes into danger spots that both Jara and Obrian didn’t take advantage of because of the offsides.
Bressan at central center back instead of right center back was interesting. I have two thoughts as to why. 1. Language. Bressan and Phelipe both Portuguese as their first language. Matt Hedges and Eddie Munjoma are both English speakers and Hedges the better teacher/communicator for Munjoma. 2. In the build-out, this shape means Martinez and Hedges are the wide players for the keeper to build with and Bressan steps forward into the hole where the 6 would be.
Franco Jara – five offsides aside – wasn’t bad in this game. He put in a solid shift with hard work and pressing. He laid off multiple balls that Obrian should have finished. Jara checked back and help build. He even put himself in a couple of spots to score. Now, was he great? No. Was this a $2.9 million-a-season performance? Hell no. But he wasn’t anywhere near the worst FCD player.
FCD was clearly in a low block setup… but with high possession as all but two players had their average position in their own half. 463 passes to 364, 79% passing to 76%, and 55% possession to 45% on the road is pretty good. It was still an overall grind it out mentality… and it almost worked. Scoreless for 94 minutes with multiple chances of your own to score. The thing is though, I don’t like the negative mindset. Coming in to grind it out puts the team in a sitting back posture and not an on-the-toes aggressive posture. Vets like Acosta and Ricaurte can flip a switch, but inexperienced players like Tanner Tessmann and Eddie Munjoma struggle to turn it on.
We tried to get through and we almost did with a point. But it didn’t happen. So, obviously disappointed with that. I’m sorry to the club. I’m sorry to the fans. Personally, it hurts because we were close to getting something positive out of the game.Luchi Gonzalez
Speaking of Eddie Munjoma, man did he have a rough night. He was so hesitant and conservative it almost made FCD play short a man. Eddie needs to remember with three center backs he has cover behind and he’s in there for his offense. He has to go at people, beat some defenders, and help create those stresses and gaps in the opposition defense. If he doesn’t do that he’s a wasted player on the field cause he’s offering very little defense in that spot against a 4-2-3-1. So right back remains a massive problem. Check out the chart, when Munjoma hits the line for the final third it’s like he’s hitting a brick wall. Everything turns and goes backward. There are very few progressive passes here.
Unfortunately, Coach Gonzalez’s attempt to fix right back was one of the most baffling subs I can ever recall. For the second straight week, Szabolcs Schon has been brought on in a mystifying manner. Last week it was after a ludicrous 2 training sessions and this week it’s to play left wingback. This just boggles the mind. It’s a forced sub out of position. Forget about the part where it put Hollingshead at right back, which is always sub-par. Schon clearly has no clue how to play wingback. He was getting trucked by Minnesota the whole time he was in. He might as well not have been out there.
The Loons instantly recognized Schon was a total waste and went at him about 98% of the time the rest of the game. Schon was getting spun like a top and playing that deep he was worthless as a wing. Both Pomykal and Sealy tried to overload and help Schon but it was a complete disaster. This has to be up there as a candidate the worst sub Coach G has ever made. It’s so incongruous that it makes me wonder – particularly when you combine it with last week – if Luchi was told to play Schon as much as he can, as fast as he can, for some reason. Pre-Euros shop window maybe?
My mind is numb from thinking about the sub.
FC Dallas hosts 7th-place Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 pm CT on TXA 21.