The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Portland Timbers

FC Dallas was in the Pacific Northwest late Sunday night to take on the Timbers of Portland and things didn’t go so well.

“We didn’t play well.”

FC Dallas Coach Nico Estevez

I was tempted to just write “the entire game was a breakdown” and call it a day on this article but I guess I love pain or something.

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez kept FC Dallas in the 4-4-2 they are using of late with Jesus Jimenez up top next to Jesus Ferreira. The unusual part was the swap of wings by Jader Obrian and Alan Velasco. Surprisingly to me, Geovane Jesus started at right back.

The FC Dallas XI at Portland Timbers, June 11, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
The FC Dallas XI at Portland Timbers, June 11, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

46th minute, An injury to Jesus Jimenez forced FCD to bring on Sam Junqua at halftime, shifting Jader Obrian to striker.

In the 82nd minute, short of any other options and in need of a goal, Herbert Endeley and Jose Mulato came on for Geovane and Edwin Cerrillo.

Since the Timbers’ social media are also cowards, we go to the MLS site for their shape. It’s a 4-2-3-1.

The Portland Timbers XI vs FC Dallas on June 11, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)
The Portland Timbers XI vs FC Dallas on June 11, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)

72nd minute, Coach Giovanni Savarese brought on Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Marvin Loría for Franck Boli and Santiago Moreno.

In the 90th, Sebastián Blanco repalced Evander.

And in the 90+6th, Larrys Mabiala replaced Dairon Asprilla.


Portland Timbers 1-0. 35th Minute. A sublime chip by Evander finds the tony gap between Nkosi Tafari and Marco Fafarn. Frank Boli slams home the header for the goal.

Lo Bueno

My FCD Man of the Match – and probably everyone else’s – was Maarten Paes. Paes was a beast in the next with a new career-high seven saves. He was in peak performance and this was one of these games by Paes that usually help keep FCD high in the standings. He single-handedly kept it a 1 goal game and gave FCD a chance.

“He (Maarten Paes) is a great player for us. I don’t like it when he has a very good game because that means we did not do our job. This means we did not play well. I am glad he is on the team and he can help the team with his actions.”

Coach Estevez

And honestly? That was about it.

I take that back, I thought Sebastien Ibeagha had a pretty solid day. Geovane on his outside isn’t the greatest defender so Ibby had to do some extra work but showed well. 75 touches, 90% passing (5/7 lnog balls), 4 intercepts, 5 clears, 4 aerials won, and 2 tackles.

Camino del Medio

When Facundo Quignon has to take on the role of playmaker, linker, and facilitator you’re probably going to have a bad day. He had 7 progressive passes on the day and 9 passes into the final third, both led FCD. Unfortunately, Dallas only had 2 passes into the box all game, one of which was from Facu, Jimenez – ostensibly the high 9 – had the other.

Muy Feo

Whatever the thinking was in Alan Velasco being on the right, it didn’t work. If it was to get him out of his funk, yeah… not so much. He was still in a funk plus he wasn’t on his good shooting foot when he cut inside. It just compounded his ineffectivness.

As I mentioned in my Instant Reaction, FCD was very passive mentally. Too much ball watching, waiting for someone else to make the run or show for the ball. It made it really easy for the Timbers to jump passes and make life really difficult for FCD for the first 15 minutes. The Timbers eased up a little after that but when still wouldn’t let FCD out of the half-field until the 2nd period. FCD started to possess after the goal and ended the night with 58% which is nuts cause at one point early it was 80/20 the other way.

As usual, though, lots of possession is bad for FCD as they are good in rapid transition. If you have the ball all the time you can’t transition. Instead in the 2nd half (as an adjustment to Obrian at the 9?), Portland sat deeps in a low block – like they often do – and made FCD try and break down their block. Something FCD sucks at. FCD ended up with 5 shots (to 14!) with just 2 on goals (to 8!).

“We should not be allowing this many mistakes and chances to opponents. The last couple of games we’ve had less than one xG, and today we had 1.3 xG against and that is not good. It’s something we have to do better so we don’t have to rely on Maarten all the time.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Jesus Ferreira has great soccer instincts, but what he’s doing at the end of these recent games is inexcusably bad and I can’t believe his coach isn’t screaming at him. I can’t fathom how this hasn’t been fixed. Chasing a goal late, FCD is sending Nkosi Tafari upfield (and they have been doing this a bunch this year, this isn’t a new problem) to overload the box. The idea is for him to cause chaos and knock down balls. The problem is, Ferreira’s instincts are to cover for his teammates’ overloads and rotate back (ordinarily a good thing). That means for the last 12 minutes or so of the game Ferreira – the only player on this team who can score worth a damn – was playing left back (March Farfan had rotated more centrally, as he should). This may be the dumbest tactic I’ve seen in a long time. Tafari is supposed to join Ferreira not swap spots with him. So frustratingly stupid.

Jader Obrian‘s yellow card vs Portland means he’s out for the next game. Awesome.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. Also, probably decent chance Jimenez is out with that injury, also no Ferreira at Gold Cup, so I guess it’s Velasco, Mulato, Kamungo and Endeley and practically no bench, or whatever random NTSC they can find.

Leave a Reply

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