The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs Austin FC

Any time you beat an in-state rival it’s a good win. When you do it without your leading scorer and best player it’s even bigger.

““It’s massive. It could’ve been the first game of the season, if we’re playing Austin I’d like to beat them as bad as we can.”

Nkosi Tafari

Lineups and Tactics

FC Dallas once again was in the fluid the 4-3-3. Paul Arriola & Jose Martinez returned to the XI with Alan Velasco retaining his spot in midfield. Jesus Jiminez replaced Jesus Ferreira.

FCD XI vs Austin FC, August 26, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FCD XI vs Austin FC, August 26, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

An injury forced Coach Nico Estevez into an early sub, taking off Geovane Jesus for Ema Twumasi. Then at halftime, Bernard Kaumgo was replaced by Eugene Ansah.

In the 58th minute, Coach Estevez again went to the bench bringing on Jader Obrian and Asier Illarramendi for Jesus Jiminez and Sebastian Lletget. Illarra played a deeper role than Lletget turning into a much clearer 4-2-3-1.

Finally, in the 74th minute, Dante Sealy replaced Jose Martinez. Marco Farfan shifted to left center back with Sealy at left back.

Since Austin social is too chicken to post a shape, we go to MLS which has them in a 4-2-3-1.

Austin FC’s Xi at FC Dallas, August 26, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)

In the 62nd minute, Austin brought on Will Bruin and Memo Rodriguez for Alex Ring and Emiliano Rigoni.

10 minutes after the red card to Daniel Pereira, Austin brought on another double sub in the 77th minute with Jhojan Valencia and Adam Lundkvist replacing Ethan Finlay and Owen Wolff.

Lastly, in the 85th minute, Gyasi Zardes replaced Sebastián Driussi.


FC Dallas 1-0. 90+7th Minute. Nkosi Tafari on a whipped-in ball by Marco Farfan, Tafari outjumps his defender to head the ball on to and into the goal. He then celebrates like a boss.

Lo Bueno

My FCD Man of the Match was Nkosi Tafari. He was fantastic for 90 minutes and the game-winner was delicious. Tafari now holds the club record for the latest game-winning goal at 96:49. It was everything we’ve been talking about with Tafari in the back half of the season: confidence, mentality, toughness, leadership, how he carries himself. This is now his defense.

“It’s something I’ve always had, it’s more of a mindset. I wanted to get more goals and assists this season and you can see I’ve been going forward more and getting in crosses and getting in the box for headers. At the end of the game, just getting in the box and getting the first contact, sometimes it just goes into the net.”

Nkosi Tafari

Alan Velasco continues to stir the Kool-Aid in midfield. This move is looking more and more permanent. 5 shot creating actions, 2 key passes, 6 passes into the final third. But it’s not just stats, it’s influence. He’s making plays that are winning games.

FC Dallas, who doesn’t necessarily want the ball, dominated possession with almost 61%. And a lot of that came even before the red card and it only got worse. But FCD is at its best in rapid transition so I’m giving this a Bueno as they figured out how to win while having boatloads of the ball. A cross for a header in the box is not this club’s usual MO.

“It definitely wasn’t our prettiest game but at this point of the season we have to take the win no matter what. That has to be our mentality from the start. If things aren’t going our way or we’re having an off-day tactically and the other team is doing something we’re not used to, we need to adapt and find a way to win.”

Paul Arriola

Nice first impression by Asier Illarramendi. I liked how smooth and composed he was surveying the game. FCD posted some nice stats on him. 33 minutes, 41/46 passes, 11 final third passes, and 0.59 xA. I will add 7 progressive passes (2nd to Tafari), 3 progressive carries, and 4 recoveries. That’s an impressive 33 minutes. He did take up a much deeper position than Lletget making it a clear double-pivot. I kept wanting him to be higher but this may be his preferred alignment.

“I am very happy to finally be able to debut and especially in a Derby game as it was very important to take the three points. I am glad I was able to help the team, we fought hard and it is important to keep working hard and be in playoff positions.”

Asier Illaramendi 

I once again liked what I saw from Dante Sealy. As I said last time, I look forward to seeing more. There’s a lot of wings around right now but the kid’s got talent.

Dogs. Dogs are awesome.

Camino del Medio

Paul Arriola, while still not back to 2022 form, looked better to me. He’s still not producing but he at least had a key pass in this one. But I like the general direction he’s heading. I’m sure we will see a lot of him until the playoffs.

“It felt great to be out there starting, and I’m really emotional right now with the loss of my mother-in-law, so being able to go out and play for her gave me an extra boost and more strength which made the victory feel that much sweeter tonight.” 

Paul Arriola

Muy Feo

Jesus Jimenez was… not good. 19 touches. 1 shot off target. 7 passes. 0/1 take-ons. 0 shot-creating actions. 4 miscontrols. The only time Jimenez has shown a benefit to FCD was when the club played a 4-4-2 and Jesus Ferreira was able to play off Jiminez. This isn’t going how it was intended.

Both Bernard Kaumngo and his replacement Eugene Ansah had trouble finding the game. They had a combined 27 touches. Compare that to Arriola’s 49 in the same time frame. Since both players had this same issue I’ll put it down to something about the way the team was playing or Austin defending more than the individuals themselves.

I have confirmed with my sources that Jesus Ferreira was indeed sick all week and couldn’t train with FCD. He was cleared to train on Friday/Saturday but Coach Nico said he was quite fatigued and couldn’t play in the game. Showing up to support your team is usually a good thing, but in the current climate of fan panic that Ferreira is going to be sold any minute, fans being told he is “out – illness” and then doing this… is a bad look.

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