The Breakdown: FC Dallas at Minnesota United – May 15, 2021

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.

The FC Dallas 3-5-2 starting XI at Minnesota United, May 15, 2021.

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.

The Loons starting XI against FC Dallas, May 15, 2021.

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.

Lo Bueno

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

Muy Feo

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.

Eddie Munjoma’s passing chart at Minnesota United, May 15, 2021. (Courtesy MLS)

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.

Next Game

FC Dallas hosts 7th-place Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Toyota Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 pm CT on TXA 21.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. Great callout on the language combinations in the back. I didn’t think about that at all.

    For whatever reason, every time FCD goes to MN it feels like 20x / game they get a 3v3 or 4v4 or better on a counterattack. Seemed like there was 100 yards for them to operate in transition between FCD’s midfield and defense. Stretched game. Would liked to have seen Cerrillo at some point to try to address that.

  2. This quote from Luchi says a lot about the current state of the team:

    “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.”

    I know this is largely coachspeak, but even a point would have been disappointing in that spot IMO. Minnesota was in a tailspin, coming off a mid-week game, and FCD couldn’t come out on the front foot and grab anything. As much as I can’t stand the histrionics of coachs like Vermes and Savarese on the sidelines, I at least feel like they hold their teams accountable to get good results.

    But hey, maybe if we just hold on for dear life and hope teams will gift us points, it’ll all work out.

    1. I was told my displeasure at him saying stuff like that on the post game call was visible. To claim that they were a minute from job done is disappointing. That goal had been coming, and that’s the team who up until a few days before had lost every game so far. You mark that as three points, and if you don’t get all three you ask a lot of questions in Monday’s video session.

  3. You’re more than happy to call out Schon and ignore the fact the reason the new shape is even a thing because of Jara. You really suck at doing this despite your experience. Impressive.

    1. The new shape is to get on Bressan (three and the back) and the fact in a 3-4-3 the wings (Vargas and Obrian) don’t come back to midfield. Not because of Jara.

      But thanks for reading mom.

      PS. I guess the year now I’ve been saying Jara sucks wasn’t enough for you.

    2. I don’t understand the issue. He is breaking down this game specifically. Not an analysis of how they got to this point. I am excited for Schon but that substitution was a turning point in the game in my eyes. He was devastated out there, it wasn’t his fault that is Luchi’s and I think that is fair to say. Luchi or whoever is making Luchi keep playing the guy so soon after arriving

  4. I want to be hopeful, I really do, but I just don’t see where the goals will come from. It’s appalling to me how many times the FO has struck out on DP signings. I feel for Schon too. He’s getting pushed into positions where he’s clearly not built to succeed and I’m not entirely sure why.

  5. I was surprised at how much you didn’t like the Schon substitution last week. I thought it was fine, a trial by fire type of thing. But we have the same reaction to the substitution on Saturday, totally baffling. Maybe he was really good in training in that spot, and then when it came game time he was just not prepared mentally? As in he wasn’t expecting to be playing that night… I don’t know. Something is very weird

  6. So you trade away your two starting wingers (obvious salary dumps) and bring in four new wingers to replace them and then you play a 3 back system where you don’t need any wingers. Makes sense to me.

  7. 66 minutes of this game was pretty good, and at least good enough to take 1 point on the road. Luchi threw that single point away when he subbed on a winger to play a wingback role in the 66th minute, then made no meaningful adjustments to fix this obvious problem for the remaining 28! minutes until Minnesota duly scored. With the exception of Schon, who can hardly be faulted IMO, everyone played about up to expectations in this one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *