The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs Austin FC, May 2024

A win over a rival is a good thing. Particularly for a team that is struggling like FC Dallas is.

With many higher-paid, special players missing from this team, it remains mostly a team of dudes. But the few key guys who were there, stepped up when needed.

“The team had really, really high-level moments in the game that we were missing this season.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Somehow, as bad as we all feel this team is, they sit in 10th, just one spot (albeit 5 points) out of a playoff spot. Unreal.

“It was a huge week, we had some big matches within a week and it started with a good Cup win. It was a very mature performance, we didn’t give anything away today and it was a very good effort. We scored very quickly – I think it was our quickest goal of the season if I remember. So that was a great feeling and then we defended really well today, I am happy with the win.”

Maarten Paes

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Nico Estevez continues to try and piece together an XI in this 3-4-3 missing the bulk of his most talented players. Tsiki Ntsabeleng kept his spot but Herbert Endeley did not with Ema Twumasi replacing him.

FC Dallas XI vs Austin FC, May 11, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI vs Austin FC, May 11, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

In what was possibly an injury move – but let’s hope was a loan management move – Asier Illarramendi came off at half for Patrickson Delgado. The team shifted into a 5-4-1 at this point.

Up 2-0 in the 71st, Coach Nico brought in Logan Farrington and Bernard Kamungo for Jesus Ferreira and Petar Musa. Given the midweek Cup game, this was probably planned for load management too.

Finally, Herbert Endeley came on for Ntsabeleng in the 84th.

Austin rolled with their 4-2-3-1 but since their social media types are cowards we have to use for the shape.

Austin FC’s XI vs FC Dallas, May 11, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Chasing the game down 2-0 but dominating play, Coach Josh Wolff brought on Žan Kolmanič for Guilherme Biro in the 57th.

Then a double in the 65th with Owen Wolff and Gyasi Zardes replacing Diego Rubio and Alex Ring. Arguably his two best players except maybe Sebastian Driussi. Odd choice.

Then in the 75th, Jhojan Valencia and CJ Fodrey came on for Dani Pereira and Jáder Obrian.


1-0 FC Dallas. 4th minute. An absolutely brutal back pass by Dani Pereira springs Petar Musa and he converts.

2-0 FC Dallas. 56th minute. Marco Farfan wins the ball, Patrickson Delgado finds Peter Musa who plays a splitting pass to spring Jesus Ferreira for his 50th MLS goal.

2-1 Austin FC. 84th minute. A bit of a soft PK – there was contact by Ema Twumasi – gives Austin a lifeline. Sebastián Driussi converts.

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Petar Musa. He stole this game 4 minutes in. Overall his positioning was good and the combinations with Jesus Ferreira keep improving, including getting an assist on his partner’s goal. Both players had 2 key passes as well.

Congrats to Jesus Ferreira on getting his 50th goal. At 23 years and 139 days old when he scored it, he became the youngest player in MLS history to score 50. He’s also the 2nd player in club history (Jason Kreis) to net 50. This kid is special, when he’s dialed in and focused he’s something else.

“I honestly did not know about that, it’s great knowing that now and it’s a great feeling. My goal here is to break records and write history, especially create my own history. This is the club that I grew up with watching and playing, it has a lot of meaning to me. Knowing my family has a big influence in the club is amazing.”

Jesus Ferreira

As I mentioned in my three things – and we’ve been saying for three seasons – this team under Coach Nico is the most dangerous when they play in rapid transition, capitalizing on defensive errors. Both goals happened that way in this one.

Camino del Medio

FCD was outplayed in almost every phase of the game except 1.
From MLS’ own stats…
Possession: 63% to 37%.
Shots: 18 to 9.
Shots on Goal: 5 to 3.
Pass Pct: 89% to 80%.
xG: 1.9 to 1.2
But here’s the thing… the one metric FCD won? Goals. And that’s all that matters. Yes, it was an ugly win. Maarten Paes made 4 saves and FCD made an astounding 30 clearances to 1.

This image is by GameFlow. You can find them on Mastodon and Bluesky.

According to multiple stat outlets, Tsiki Ntsabeleng had 3 mis-controlled receptions and was dispossessed 3 times for 6 total turnovers. But he also had 2 key passes. Playing him higher up the field mitigates the turnovers. But perhaps it underscores the desperation for a player who can play underneath the striker that Ntsabeleng keeps the spot.

Honestly, watching a team play in a low block 3-4-3 and then shift into a 5-4-1 to go even more defensive at home against a rival is soul-crushingly boring. Yes, they kept Austin out of the goal, if barely. And yes, a win is a win. But man, this kind of play is going to kill attendance over the season. The win will likely reinforce that this is the way to go for this coach and team. Particularly given the playoffs are in reach.

Muy Feo

This version of FC Dallas feels like a poor passing team when it counts. I don’t have the data deep dive to back it up and the overall average remains roughly 80%… but when trying to build out, break a press, break lines, penetrate the box, or make shot-creating passes this current FCD squad sure seems off the mark. This results in an inability to string together play and contributes to the abysmally low possession numbers.

Seeing Asier Illarramendi go off at half-time was a real bummer. He’s by far the best midfielder FCD has left and was the only two-way player in the back 8 of the team. After he went off FCD went full 5-4-1 with 7 defensive players, 1 two-way capable mid, and 2 forwards. This club’s midfield is an unmitigated personnel disaster right now.

“There was also a bit of indecision between Marco (Farfan) and Sam (Junqua), who goes and who stays, that’s why we shifted to five, and we were able to control more in the last few minutes of the first half.” 

Coach Nico Estevez

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

Meme Time


  1. i don’t think most people care the way they play as long as they win. It’s unlikely they can keep winning playing so poorly, but if they do, the stadium will stay full.

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