The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Seattle Sounders, 1st Round, Game 1

When you go to a place you’ve won just one time in your history you need to have the whole team on their A-game… and that’s not what FCD got.

“It was unacceptable and our energy was not there. It’s a playoff game against the Seattle Sounders FC, and we need to be aware of who we are playing and where we are playing.”

Nkosi Tafari

Dallas is now 2-5-2 all-time against the Sounders in the playoffs and 0-4-2 in Seattle. 

Lineups and Tactics

There aren’t a whole lot of decision points at this time of year. The injury to Bernard Kamungo brought Jader Obrian on. Sebastian Lletget made the bench for the first time in a while.

Tactics are fluid and all that, but this runs out a bit more like a 4-3-3 than 4-2-3-1 most of the time. But that’s frankly just semantics.

FC Dallas XI at Seattle Sounders, 1st Round, Game 1, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at Seattle Sounders, 1st Round, Game 1, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

With the injury to Alan Velasco, Coach Estevez went to his bench and brought on Liam Fraser in the 18th minute.

70th minutes, Sam Junqua and Dante Sealy repalced Marco Farfan and Jader Obrian.

Then at 77′, Bernard Kamungo and Eugene Ansah replaced Paxton Pomykal and Paul Arriola.

Seattle ran their usual 4-2-3-1 with no Raúl Ruidíaz and no Nico Lodeiro in the XI.

Seattle Sounders XI vs FC Dallas, 1st Round, Game 1, 2023. (Courtesy Seattle Sounders)
Seattle Sounders XI vs FC Dallas, 1st Round, Game 1, 2023. (Courtesy Seattle Sounders)

Up 1-0, Seattle brought on Lodeiro for Leo Chu in the 63rd.

Then Ruidíaz came on for Jordan Morris in the 83rd.

And that was it.


1-0 Seattle. 43rd minute. After Marco Farfan got baited a little into a foul by Cristian Roldan, Albert Rusnák converted the PK.

2-0 Seattle. 74th minute. Seattle works the left side where Nico Lodeiro springs Nouhou for a cross. Jordan Morris splits Sebas Ibeagha and Nkosi Tafari for the goal.

“The second goal is a goal we shouldn’t allow, we have to defend better. They had one player and we had three defenders inside the box.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Lo Bueno

I struggled to pick an FCD Man of the Match with the flat showing but finally chose Nkosi Tafari. It’s not a hill I’m prepared to die on but I liked his mentality challenging everything coming through the middle. Admittedly, he made a mistake on the Morris goal. 82 touches so most of the build from the back came through him. 4 blocks, 4 intercepts, 3 tackles, 10 clears, and 6 recoveries.

Shout out to Liam Fraser who had to sub on pretty much cold in a game he probably didn’t expect to get in until quite late. He had a really strong showing. I’ve come to believe the kid is mentally tough. 4 progressive passes led FCD. 77% passing, that’s not bad. 2 key passes, 0.5 xG, 3 blocks… solid showing.

I could tell you how good Asier Illarramendi was but I’m starting to sound like a broken record. He wasn’t game breaking good this time, just good for a normal player.

Great save by Maarten Paes, the scoreline should have been worse.

Camino del Medio

FC Dallas attacked down the left at a 46% clip. I don’t know that it’s really good or bad specifically, but I do generally prefer better balance.

Muy Feo

The injury to Alan Velasco stinks. We’re supposed to get some kind of official update tomorrow but I’m not very optimistic.

“The worst part about this for me was the loss of Alan (Velasco). That’s the most detrimental and he’s family and a brother to us.”

Nkosi Tafari

Jesus Ferreira had a couple of fantastic chances to score early and didn’t. Then after that, he went walkabout. When your 9 has 54 touches with 49 passes that’s bad. On this team which is a low-volume chance-producing team, that’s not a good sign. Ferreira had 5 touches in the box in the first 30 minutes resulting in 3 shots and a 0.6 xG. And then didn’t have another shot or touch in the box the whole game. Here’s his touch map from the 31st minute on.

Jesus Ferreira' touch map from 30' on vs Seattle in Game 1. (Courtesy
Jesus Ferreira’ touch map (attacking left) from 31′ on vs Seattle in Game 1. (Courtesy

“When you have chances, you have to score it. We saw it yesterday with Kansas City, when they had the chances, they scored and they were able to win away. We had the chances but we didn’t capitalize on those.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Seattle is very physical at home and battles hard for every loose ball. That’s a hallmark of their side and it can be very difficult to get much of the ball there. But Maarten Paes’ long balls from the back were collected by FCD just 3 times in 17 for an 18% rate. Long passing isn’t Paes’ best quality but perhaps this was indicative of the FCD mindset being off. He’s usually about 35%.

FC Dallas was even flatter in the 2nd half than the back end of the first. FCD didn’t get a shot off till Dante Sealy of all people had one in the 85th minute.

“In the second half, we didn’t bring the energy that we had in the first half. It was difficult for us to control the game. We changed the formation to see if we could do something different.”

Coach Nico Estevez

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