The Breakdown – FC Dallas at St Louis City

The wheels came off in St Louis with one crazy red card moment. After that, it was bunker, grind, and hope. The moment of hope came… and went.

“It’s brutal, the boys just worked so hard. We created some really good chances to even score goals and it just makes it that much tougher.”

Jimmy Maurer

Lineups and Tactics

FC Dallas swaps to a 4-4-2 but that turns out to matter for only a short period of time. Paxton Pomykal makes his first start in some time. Dante Sealy is wide left and Sebastian Lletget is wide right. Jader Obrian returns at striker. Ema Twumasi is at right back and Sebas Ibeagha is at center back. That’s a lot of change.

“The schedule is what it is, and we have to be smart about it and how we use our players. We had a bad experience back in May and we do not want to experience that again. For us it was important to rotate tonight.”

Coach Nico Estevez
FC Dallas XI at St Louis City, August 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI at St Louis City, August 30, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

After the red card, FC Dallas swaps to a 4-4-1 bringing on Jimmy Maurer for Jesus Jiminez.

In the 61st minute, Coach Nico Estevez brought on Asier Illarramendi and Eugene Ansah for Lletget and Obrian.

Then, in the 81st minute, Jose Martinez and Liam Fraser replaced Marco Farfan and Pomykal shiting to a 5-3-1. More on this sub later.

St Louis City socials being cowards like so many are, we turn to MLS for their lineup graphic showing a 4-2-3-1.

St. Louis City XI vs FC Dallas, August 30, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)
St. Louis City XI vs FC Dallas, August 30, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)

SLC’s coach went hard on changes at halftime to take advantage of the man advantage bringing on Indiana Vassilev, Nökkvi Thórisson, and Anthony Markanich for Jared Stroud, Samuel Adeniran, and Kyle Hiebert.

In the 71st to great applause, João Klauss came on for Akil Watts. And finally, in the 80th, Tomás Ostrák replaced Aziel Jackson (who had an impressive game).


St Lous City 0-1. 82nd minute. Liam Fraser has over-shifted and the St Louis field switch leaves him with a long run… he doesn’t get there in time and Dante Sealy also stays home instead of trying to close down the crosser. So the wide-open swinger goes over the 3 center backs – who are either marking no one or doubling the 9 – all the way to the back post where Ema Twumasi either scores an own goal or is beaten to the ball by Anthony Markanich (the official scoring).

St Lous City 0-2. 85th minute. Nkosi Tafari passes out of pressure to Liam Fraser… who just lets the ball roll past him to St Louis. The Ravaolis play it wide and once again the defender, Jose Martinez this time, backs off instead of closing and allows an easy cross in behind the defense. Sebas Ibeagha can’t get to it and with Ema Twumasi caught up field (as Dallas was building out) it’s a wide-open Nökkvi Thórisson for an easy goal.

FC Dallas Goal 1-2. 95th minute. A nothing cross by Liam Fraser goes right to the keeper who bizarrely fumbles it right to the feet of Eugene Ansah for the goal.

I can’t find a copy of the goal I can embed, so here’s a link to the goal on MLS’ website.

Lo Bueno

My FCD Man of the Match was Paxton Pomykal with one of the better performances he’s had in a while. He was bright and active, playing good defense in a shape that the club doesn’t use often while down a man. 86% passing (best among starters), 2/2 in take-ons (led FCD), 2 shot-creating actions (tied to lead FCD), and 4 passes into the final third (led FCD).

I thought the bunker and grind after the red card showed a lot of grit and belief a chance would come. It showed an overall good mentality and resilience.

“We knew we had it in us. We defended amazing, the effort – we were talking after, our body language, attitude, calmness, composure, defending and grinding was amazing all night. It’s a tough one to take but we got to try and build on it and use the defensive workrate and everything else we did and take it into Saturday and be ready to try and get some points at home against Atlanta.”

Jimmy Maurer

Camino del Medio

Facundo Quignon had a good day defensively with 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 blocks, and only one foul committed. But he had a rough day doing anything getting forward with 71% passing, 0 shot-creating actions, 0 progressive carries, 0 take-ons, and 1 progressive pass.

Of the, not surprisingly, low 5 shots by FC Dallas they managed to get 4 of them on target and actually “won” the xG battle 1.4 to 1.1. The game was there for the taking.

Muy Feo

This team without Jesus Ferreira continues to be a non-playoff team. They better hope he’s around all season.

Three mistakes led to the red card. First, Dante Sealy didn’t check back and provide cover as Marco Farcan got caught up in transition. Nkosi Tarafi was gesturing for Sealy to check back but by then it was too late. Second, once Sealy fails to check, Tafari should have just blasted the ball 30 rows into the stands. On the road, play it safe, get it out. 3rd, Maarten Paes comes halfway and there’s a breakdown in communication. If Paes comes he needs to come hard and loud for the ball. Tafari senses him, peels off, and they get caught between which leads to the handball. It’s a moment for all three players to learn.

Eugene Ansah blew the money to take the game. If he doesn’t hesitate, gets that shot off, and scores… if he takes the moment, FCD had a really good shot to steal the game. He didn’t and the team collapsed perhaps knowing the chance had come and gone.

“If you look at the stats, we had better expected goals and multiple clear chances. The difference was that they took advantage of their chances, and we didn’t.”

Coach Nico Estevez

This game, after so much hard work, was a defensive meltdown. The final sub-pairing of Jose Martinez and Liam Fraser was a disaster. Both goals come directly from poor defensive play on their side (see above).

It turns out that Sam Junqua (as seen on social media) traveled with the team and for whatever reason (injury perhaps?) he wasn’t on the game-day roster. In hindsight, Junqua clearly should have started over Dante Sealy who had no idea how to play wide mid or wingback in this heavy defensive environment.

“We had a game plan for their formation changes in game. We told Dante to drop back and make the backline of five to counter their overload. … Dante did good for his first start, and there were other things he could also improve on. We will work on those things to get better for the next time.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. I really need to go back and watch at least the first half (I won’t but …………..) and see if my eyesight was off the night of the game. I was really watching Pax all first half and found him to be awful. Didn’t think he completed a pass to a teammate the entirity of the 1st plus he looked lost when tracking back. Add to that he was dispossesed a number of times ……………………………My eyesight must be really deteriorating. Much better in the 2nd though still not real good. Couple of strong plays.

    1. I agree I thought Pomykal was poor in the first half but really grew into the game in the second.
      That dribble run in the second really deserved a better finish.

Leave a Reply

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