The Breakdown: FC Dallas at Minnesota United – November 8, 2020

Well, that was unpleasant. FC Dallas once again produced a stinker on the final day of the regular season. 

FC Dallas is now 6-16-3 in the final road game of the season.  FCD had won 3 straight and was 4-1-1 over their last 6 coming in, but this meltdown leaves them (officially) 1-5-3 on the road in 2020.

Before you ask, the win in Nashville counts as a neutral site because of MLS is Back. But yes, that was a great win.

We’re clearly disappointed, obvious this wasn’t the plan. I’m sorry to the fans, I’m sorry to the club that we couldn’t earn ourselves a home game. That was a big objective of ours set at the beginning of the season. And even after everything that we went through, we had that possibility until this last game; and it’s obviously slipped through our fingers now.

FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez

Let’s break it down…

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Luchi Gonzalez stays in this 4-2-3-1 but brings on Santi Mosquera to start and left wing – even though he’s 45 minutes fit basically – so that Ryan Hollingshead can return to left back. Bressan continues at left center back, something I expect FCD to finish the season with. Franco Jara and Fafa Picault are both on the bench so Ricardo Pepi stays in the XI. 

With the late appearance of Jimmy Maurer on the injury list, Phelipe makes his MLS debut.

FC Dallas XI at Minnesota United, November 8, 2020.

Shortly after the disaster 2nd half start, Luchi double subs Picault and Jara for Mosquera and Jesus Ferreira. Which leaves Pepi as a sometimes 10 and other times double striker with Jara (4-2-4?).

Then in the 71st minute, Goach G went with another double swap of Tanner Tessmann for Thiago Santos and Ema Twumasi for Michael Barrios. Both are basically straight swaps.

Finally, in the 83rd minute, Brandon Servania replaced Ricardo Pepi, which moved Andres Ricaurte higher into a 10’ish role.

Adrian Heath also had Minnesota in a 4-2-3-1. They are missing a bunch of bodies due to injuries.

Minnesota United FC XI vs FC Dallas, November 8, 2020.

Heath went with Hassani Dotson for Ethan Finlay in the 75th minute and Foster Langsdorf for Kevin Molino in the 80th.

Then a triple sub in garbage time at the 85th minute: Noah Billingsley for Romain Métanire, James Musa for Marlon Hairston, and Chase Gasper for Emanuel Reynoso.

Goals

0-1 Minnesota United goal. 17th minute. A brutally bad back pass by Ryan Hollinsghdead is early cut out by Robin Lod who finds Emanuel Reynoso who plays to Kevin Molino for the easy goal.

0-2 Minnesota United goal. 47th minute. Another brutally bad back pass, this one by Michael Barrios, gives the ball to Kevin Molino in the danger zone-14. Molino plays a simple pass to Robin Lod who crosses to Emmanuel Reynoso at the top of the box.  Quality finish but Phelipe was a little flat-footed.

First two goals were from poor giveaways and it put us on the backfoot. For those goals, that’s what went wrong… …But our lack of concentration on giveaways put us on the backfoot.

Matt Hedges

0-3 Minnesota United goal. 79th minute. Andres Ricaurte loses a duel in midfield to Jan Gregus and the ball goes wide to Robin Lod, again. Lod runs past Bressan like the center back is standing still and crosses to Emmanuel Reynoso – again at the top of the box – and he again finds Kevin Molino for the clean shot into the corner.

El Bueno

This performance was so error-prone and flat, I struggled to find a Man of the Match.  In the end, I chose Matt Hedges mostly for his mentality. He had a look of focus and determination on his face. Post-game he was pissed off. 58 touches, 85% passing, 5 aerials won, 1 tackle, 2 intercepts, 7 clearances, 6 recoveries, 2 blocks, and just 1 foul committed.  I only saw one pass that I didn’t like.  He was FCD’s best player which on this night of poor play isn’t saying much.

Bryan Reynolds wasn’t terrible either and I did consider him. He was getting forward a bit didn’t have much joy connecting. 68 touches, 84% passing but just 2 crosses. The overload with Barrios just wasn’t happening.  4 for 5 on long balls, that’s an improvement. 8 recoveries and 2 clears.

I thought both Fafa Picault and Ema Twumasi as subs brought a good energy and activity that was missing.  With Picault we are used to this but it was really nice to see Ema looking for the ball and trying to be impactful. I’ll take that any time.

Camino del Medio

16 shots on the road isn’t bad and 75% in the box is excellent. But the shooting was poor with only 4 on target. That’s not been a problem for FCD late and seeing it come in on this one isn’t good. 9 shots off target, not blocks or saves… just misses.

They put away their chances and we didn’t, we’ve got a similar amount of shots and a similar amount of crosses, similar amount of passes but it’s all about the end product and they put away their chances and we didn’t. 

Luchi Gonzalez

I miss the press. Tactically a mid-block when you stink on the road can be the right choice, but this team gets passive when they play this way and doesn’t counter aggressively back into their attacking ways. The press is such a big trigger for FCD in terms of opportunities but also in having a “front-foot” mentality. They are the Luchi-Ball protagonists playing that way.

We were reactive in the game, we knew Minnesota were going to go for it, all or nothing. The pressure was on them to push the game but we’re also proud of how we want to play; we want to press, we want to push the game. We came here with a lineup that we wanted to attack with and put pressure on them. But we didn’t win enough duels, we didn’t win enough moments and battles and possessions. And those add up, all those individual moments add up to a result.

Luchi Gonzalez

Ricardo Pepi was hit or miss in this one for me.  33 touches and 86% passing sounds good and 2 shots plus 3 key passes is nice. Love it.  But 5 flubbed receptions (tied with Hollingshead for FCD worse) and 1 dispossession isn’t good. It’s not his time yet.

Phelipe’s MLS debut was middle of the road. He was forced to make 6 saves which is a high number in general terms. But he could maybe have done better on the 2nd goal as he was a little flat-footed.  At just 21 he’s got a big future, it just might not be with FCD, based on his price.

Muy Feo

There were just too many mental errors in this one. Too many mistakes from lack of concentration and focus. Was it because FCD had qualified for the playoffs?  Certainly, there should have been recognition of the value of home-field.  It wasn’t a lack of effort specifically, but rather a lack of aggressiveness.  This performance was way worse than the game at RSL.

I’ve come to believe FCD’s road woes are about mentality.  Because they stink on the road they play to not make mistakes and not to lose. When you play to not make mistakes you, of course, make mistakes. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. They play on the back foot, lack adventure and ideas.  They become passive and not active and this is the result.  This is not a lack of effort it’s just a state of mind and it’s was particularly obvious on the 2nd half start.

We could lose the game but if we’d had a better performance – better reactions, winning more duels, little more fight – the game could bounce your way. We’ve got to be honest with ourselves, I’ve got to be honest with myself, we didn’t trigger each other and I didn’t trigger the boys enough to get that reaction. 

Luchi Gonzalez

Santiago Mosquera – FCD’s not fit designated player: 29 touches, 65% passing, 1 shot off target, 0 key passes, 0 dribbles, dispossessed 1 time, 3 flubbed balls, 1 cross.

Do you know who you know you’re getting your butt kicked? When two players make their debut against youFoster Langsdorf made his MNUFC debut (he played 25 career minutes with Portland last year) and Noah Billingsley made his first career MLS appearance.  The regular season final, sure, I get that… But that’s how you know.

Next Game

FC Dallas kicks off their 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs at Portland Timbers on either November 21st, 22nd, or 24th. Kickoff time TBD.   

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

FC Dallas at Minnesota United…

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