The Breakdown – FC Dallas at Sporting KC May 2023

The game was a loss but FC Dallas didn’t play all that badly considering the injuries and personnel issues plaguing the squad. Kickoff was an hour late because of the weather in the area.

“Our guys were ready to go, but the weather delay definitely had an impact on our guys. We started off slower than what we wanted, but overall we did a good job to wait and get ready to go.”

FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estevez

Lineups and Tactics

With every 8 on the roster out with injury, Coach Nico Estevez couldn’t play his preferred 4-3-3 or even his recent choice the 4-2-3-1. Instead, he lined up in a 4-4-2 with Jesus Jimenez coming on as the added striker.

In a shocking pregame move, FCD recalled 19-year-old Collin Smith from Birmingham Legion for two games and he was immediately inserted in the starting lineup at right back for his MLS debut. Also making his MLS debut was 18-year-old center-back Nolan Norris… in central midfield.

“I’ve started playing the number six position recently but the staff and players have given me full confidence to just go out there and do my thing. That’s what I tried to do and hopefully I made a good impression.”

Nolan Norris
FC Dallas XI at Sporting KC on May 31, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at Sporting KC on May 31, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

In the 55th minute, in what had to be a minute restriction, the two Homegrown debutants – Norris and Smith – came off for Geovane Jesus and Facundo Quignon.

Down 2-0, FCD brought on three relatively inexperienced players in a fresh legs, but also “why not get them some PT,” move. Jose Mulato, Bernard Kamungo, and Herbert Endeley subbed in for Jimenez, Alan Velasco, and Jader Obrian.

Sporting KC used the 4-1-4-1 they did against Portland Timbers. It’s basically a 4-3-3 but their wings play very wide giving it that 4 across kind of vibe.

Sporting KC XI vs FCD on May 31, 2023. (Courtesy SKC)
Sporting KC XI vs FCD on May 31, 2023. (Courtesy SKC)

Up 2-0 in the 63rd minute, Sporting started resting people. Robert Castellanos, Rémi Walter, and Tim Leibold replaced Dany Rosero, Gadi Kinda, and Logan Ndenbe.

Then in the 71st, SKC was forced to replace the injured Graham Zusi with forward Khiry Shelton. According to the TV commentary, Shelton had never played right back before.


Sporting KC 1-0. 41st minute.

An FCD triple team on Logan Ndenbe frees up Dániel Sallói – the FC Dallas Destroyer – to the end line and his cross finds Gadi Kinda (poorly tracked by Alan Velasco) on the late run for the goal.

Sporting KC 2-0. 60th minute. Dániel Sallói – the FC Dallas Destroyer – with pretty much zero pressure from Geovane Jesus, scores at the back post.

FC Dallas 2-1. 91st minute. A lovely over-the-top ball by Facundo Quignon finds Jesus Ferreira just inside the box, Ferreira touched it past the rushing keeper and lobs the ball over a diving defender for the goal. This is a seriously high-quality piece of skill by JF.

Lo Bueno

Jesus Ferreira Part 1: JF was my Man of the Match. Ferreira is FCD’s best player and the only one who can score with a lick. He worked his tail off in this game and didn’t quit. His goal was a positively sublime piece of skill. He leads this team in goals and chances created. What a player.

Jader Obrian continues to play really well – particularly compared to where he started the season – and was the 2nd most dangerous attacker. Once again he led FC Dallas in key passes (he’s 2nd on the team this season with 17), was 2nd in shot-creating actions with 3 (Ferreira had 10), and 3rd in progressive passes with 5.

Camino del Medio

By most measures, you wouldn’t say Nolan Norris and Collin Smith were “good.” But context matters. 18 and 19-year-old kids making MLS debuts as starters could have been an epic disaster. Even though SKC was targeting his side, Smith wasn’t intimidated, got up and down fairly well, and was pretty solid on D. He was part of the triple team on the first goal but so were two other players. And it wasn’t Smith who half-assed it on the FC Dallas Destroyer for the 2nd goal. Norris was calm and collected balls when he could and immediately looked for help and kept it moving. Simple is fine in this contact. Solid showing and a fantastic step in their careers.

“It’s something that they were looking forward to for a long time. They’ve been working hard for the opportunity and it came today. I think they did a very good job. From there they can grow and do better.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Jesus Jimenez had some scoring chances he didn’t put away. Yes, he’s slow but his movement is good and constant. But he’s got to finish those chances. This “double false-9” works fairly well in putting CBs under stress (FCD 1.3 expected goals to SKCs 0.9). But you gotta convert.

Alan Velasco still had a pretty good stat line but I thought his decision-making and choices in this game were poor compared to his usual. When to go at people vs pass, the weight of his passes, crosses behind people, and a few bad touches that led to turnovers. We all have such high expectations for and post-injury he’s been a bit meh.

Muy Feo

Jesus Ferreira Part 2: He’s trying to do way too much. Dude, you are the ONLY ONE on this team who can score. Stop doing all the extra stuff that doesn’t help the team win. Yes, play false-9, JF thrives as a late-arriving striker and linebreeding in zone 14. So keep moving and checking but stop coming back to the CBs for the ball and trying to link play. I don’t need to see you just outside your own penalty box in the build-up. JF led the team with 7 progressive passes and passes into the final third with 6, those aren’t things I don’t want in my 9, false or not. Trust your teammates.

FC Dallas gave away too many fouls and free kicks around their own box. I think there were about four times SKC got to set up for a nice free-kick attempt on goal. It’s not cataclysmic but it’s something that needs to be managed a little better.

Geovane Jesus‘ effort on the 2nd goal was a complete joke. That’s the kind of play that would get someone sat if the other real choice at that position wasn’t hurt.

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