The Breakdown: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City – September 2, 2020

You know how sometimes a tie can feel like a victory? Particularly on the road in MLS? Yeah, this wasn’t one of those times. 

FCD had the game for the taking… and didn’t take it.

I don’t want to say we could of. I want to say we should’ve scored the second goal. We should’ve scored the second goal, and we have to be disappointed we didn’t get three points, because of what we could have done in the first half in terms of transitions, counters. But that’s football. 

FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

With no Fafa Picault or Paxton Pomykal, Coach Gonzalez went back to his most chosen 4-3-3.  Jesus Ferreira was at left wing and Franco Jara returns up top. Michael Barrios was back at right wing after a game off.  Brandon Servania steps into midfield.  Johnny Nelson and Ryan Hollingshead continue as the outside backs.

The FC Dallas XI at Sporting KC, Sept. 2, 2020.

Then the game happened and it was an injury calamity.

First, Tanner Tessmann came on for Bryan Acosta – who had a quad issue – in the 19th minute. Then Kyle Zobeck made his MLS debut for Jimmy Maurer who had a calf issue – in the 42nd minute.  Then at halftime, Bressan came in for Matt Hedges who had a head injury and was lifted mostly as a precaution. 3 subs by halftime is something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

Then in the 2nd half Santiago Mosquera was on for Brandon Servania and Bryan Reynolds was on for Jesus Ferreira – both in the 64th minutes – making it a 3-4-3.

FC Dallas’ 3-4-3 late in the game against Sporting KC, Sept 2, 2020.

We switched our formation to protect our last line and to protect our box and at the end of the day the point is valuable.

Luchi Gonzalez

Sporting played their usual 4-3-3 look, which frankly looked more 4-1-4-1 in execution.  They had to start 4 Academy players with injuries and suspensions.

Sporting KC’s XI vs FC Dallas, Sept 2, 2020. (Courtesy MLS)

Matt Besler came on for Graham Smith at halftime.  Daniel Salloi subbed for Gerso (who was causing FCD fits) and Graham Zusi for Cameron Duke at the 57-minute mark. Then finally in the 93rd minute, Erik Hurtado came on for Felipe Hernandez.


1-0 FC Dallas. 9th minute.  Bryan Acosta presses, steals, and feeds Fracno Jara who uses a classy, delicate chip to open his FCD scoring account.

1-1 Sporting KC Goal. 48th minute of first half. A turnover in midfield occurs when the 5’7” Gianluca Busio outjumps Thiago Santos.  Both FCD outside backs are up high and don’t get back in time.  Tanner Tessmann is caught between two players, ball watches a bit, and doesn’t track Khiry Shelton as a quick combo breaks him into the gap between the FCD center backs for the goal.

El Bueno

Johnny Nelson was my co-Man of the Match with Bressan.  Nelson had 5 recoveries, 8 clears, 2 intercepts, 2 blocks, 5 tackles – 3 won, 3 dribbles, and was 81% in his passing.  Bressan had 1 recovery, 8 clears, 1 intercept, and 3 blocks. Strangely no tackles. His 96% passing was big, though, helping relieve pressure.  Bressan also took a couple of shots in the gut.

Reto Ziegler had a solid game. But then he pretty much always does. It’s hard to really gush about him since he does this game after game.  There’s something about being a consistent pro isn’t there? 74 touches, 90% passing on 62 passes, 2 tackles, 1 intercept, 3 clears, and 2 blocks. 5 for 9 on long balls. Just quality.

Bryan Acosta was fantastic until he got hurt.  19 terrific minutes.  This is the player we expected – pressing, linking… amazing. This and the first half of the Loons game. More of this, please.

We wanted Servania to be a little more connected with Thiago, and Acosta to have a little more freedom to break his lines. And, you see how dangerous he is when he breaks lines and puts pressure on the opponent and so that resulted in a play that got Franco in behind. That was the idea.

Luchi Gonzalez

Congrats to Kyle Zobeck on the debut.  Among players taken in the MLS draft (whether Super, Supplemental, or College, but NOT including the inaugural player draft in 1996), Kyle Zobeck is the oldest player to make his MLS debut, at age 30 years, 209 days last night vs SKC. (Stat credit FC Dallas PR)

I gotta give some love to Gianluca Busio who was amazing. He outplayed, outworked, and out hustled the entire FCD midfield. (At least after Acosta went off, anyway). What a BALLER this kid is at 5’7” and 18 years of age. 

Giabluca Busio’s passing and defensive chart against FC Dallas, Sept 2, 2020. (Courtesy MLS)

Camino del Medio

I don’t hate Ryan Hollingshead at right back, but I don’t love it either.  He himself has admitted he’s out of sorts there. By using him there, both outside backs are playing about half the game Coach Gonzalez needs/wants.

More PT for Bryan Reynolds is good I guess. 26 minutes.  At least this game he got to play some wingback. That’s a step in the right direction.  This process isn’t as fast as I expected. I do see splashes and moments that tantalize about the future. We need to see it happen.

Franco Jara got a goal, that’s good, let’s see where it goes. I like just about everything about him, but I’m having trouble getting over how slow he looks. But the soccer mind, oh my.

The truth is that I am very happy because just like all forwards we want to score, we want to help the team, but there are always things to improve. 

Franco Jara

After a couple of good games, Jesus Ferreira fell back to earth for me. 2 shots, both kind of limp, although they were on target. 26 touches before being pulled, only two of which were in the box. I’m not going to call it a bad game, but it wasn’t good either.

Thiago Santos put in a hardworking shift but wasn’t at his very best as the midfield collapsed. 6 tackles – 3 won, 3 lost – 2 blocks, 1 clear, and 14 recoveries.

Muy Feo

The FC Dallas midfield after Acosta went off got dominated.  This wasn’t a great game by either Tessmann or Brandon Servania. But the biggest problem is, I think, the lack of width and possession from the outside backs who usually come up and overload in midfield.  That part isn’t working right now.

FCD has no answer for Gerso, why did Sporting take him out?  His 3 shots and 3 key passes were quite high and in dangerous spots. This combined chart is nuts.

Gerso’s combined chart vs FC Dallas, Sept. 2, 2020. (Courtesy MLS)

Late on the game Dallas looked gassed. Why is this team looking so tired and slow all the time, notably so late in games? Fitness? Age?  You could hear Luchi calling for them to move the ball quickly. We’ve been talking about this for weeks. Everything is so static.

Santi Mosquera – and I will remind you he is a DP – had 0 touches in the final third. 2 dribbles both in the middle third.  His hysterical dribble-muff didn’t even register as an attacking dribble as he didn’t reach the defender before losing the ball. I’m over this dude but I’m sure Luchi will give him more chances than he deserves.

Next Game

FC Dallas heads to Allianz Field in Minnesota to take on the Loons again next Wednesday, September 9th, at 7 pm CT on TXA21.


  1. I think you might be letting Santos off a little easy with regard to the midfield getting outplayed for most of the game – I count eight or nine turnovers in bad positions against SKC. Part of that might be the performances of Servania and Tessmann and the support from the fullbacks, but it’s been an issue in other games as well. He’s just not as secure with the ball as Gruezo was, and ball security matters for a deep-lying midfielder. Sometimes those risks pay off (like in the Philadelphia game), but other times he puts his CBs in bad spots.

    1. You may be right. The stats say he was disposed twice and had 3 poor receptions/muffs. 77% passing is low for him, he avgs 82%. He did have 10 incomplete passes in his half 6 in the defensive third. Some of that, though, is the lack of outlets as his teammates were quite static and the outlets wide weren’t there as much.

  2. Once Acosta was hurt, I think you have to take your foot off the gas of “they should have won.” Definitely by Maurer. And then Hedges? And you didn’t have FP available at the jump.

    So frankly I think a tie is a good result here.

    OTOH, the fatigue issue is definitely concerning. I don’t think having to play subs alone justifies that.

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