The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs Nashville SC

I will admit, I didn’t have a great feeling about this game going in. Nashville is quite hot and their reigning MVP is, well, reigning. Dallas being all banged up put them in an uncomfortable state and the offense has gone kinda quiet the last few games.

But all that considered, it wasn’t a bad loss (FCD 1.5 xG to 0.9). Some better finishing – admittedly a problem the last couple of games – and the result would have been quite different.

“The result was not fair, we produced a game that should have resulted in a win tonight. We need to focus on capitalizing the chances we have as there were several opportunities that should have ended in a goal and we have to do better.” 

FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estevez

Lineups and Tactics

FC Dallas is still banged up and after Coach Nico Estevez talked about how much he liked the way the 4-4-2 looked I assumed he would run it again.

Then the lineup image came out and it showed Jader Orbain with Ferreira, Sebas Ibeagha in the back line, and Herbert Endeley wide in midfield…

FC Dallas XI vs Nashville SC, June 3, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI vs Nashville SC, June 3, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

And my brain went derp. None of those three things made sense to me it must be a back three. I was sure this was a 3-4-3 based on the names alone…

Nope. It was a 4-4-2. Ibeagha was indeed at right back, Endeley was the right mid, and Obrian was at striker with Jesus Ferreira. I was flabbergasted…

…And totally wrong, obviously. Mea culpa. I assumed, you know what they say.

In the 55th minute – no way is that not a pre-planned minute restriction move as it happened two games in a row – FCD did a three-man sub with Sam Junqua, Geovane Jesus, and Jesus Jiminez replacing Marco Farfan, Ibeagha, and Endeley.

Then in the 81st, Bernard Kamungo replaced Nolan Norris as FCD tried to bring on some attacking punch in something like a 4-1-3-2.

Since Nashville are cowards and don’t post a shape, MLS has them in an “inverted” 4-3-3.

Nashville SC XI at FC Dallas, June 3, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)
Nashville SC XI at FC Dallas, June 3, 2023. (Courtesy MLS)

Josh Bauer replaced Walker Zimmerman in what might have been an injury precaution move or minute restriction. Then at 67′ Randall Leal and Jacob Shaffelburg replaced Alex Muyl and Fafa Picault in a “fresh legs” go-for-the-win move. Which worked, obviously.

After scoring, NSC went defensive bringing on Taylor Washington and Ján Gregus for Teal Bunbury and Aníbal Godoy.


Nashville 1-0. 9th minute. In an unfortunate moment, a cross by Shaq Moore is redirected via a header by Nolan Norris for the most DTID own goal of all time. (In case you don’t recall, Moore played for the FCD Academy.)

FC Dallas 1-1. 25th minute. What a fantastic team goal. Velasco to Ferreira to Facundo Quignon, to Marco Farfan who crosses to Jader Obrian for the goal. Beautiful.

Nashville SC 2-1. 77th minute. Nkosi Tafari makes a bad pass out of the back which is intercepted and played over his head. Hany Mukhtar blows past Jose Martinez, who falls down taking out Tafari, allowing the MVP to waltz in on goal like an MVP does. No, it’s not a handball.

“I think he (Hany Mukhtar) got played in and was in a 1v1 with José, then with a little bit of luck he went through José and our defenders crashed into each other. Then he ran into me and there was another Nashville player that he could’ve also passed to so I had to shift my stance. If you give him (Mukhtar) a little bit of room he’ll punish you, so I think it was a good finish. It was a hard one for me to save.”

Maarten Paes

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Jader Obrian. I thought he was pretty good again and not just the goal he scored, which was a very pretty team goal. Maybe this choice was about his recent play, but he brings energy and effort every time and never quits. He did have 2 key passes, 4 progressive passes, 3 carries, 5 recoveries, and got 50% of his shots on target (1/2).

I can’t get over how much better Facundo Quignon is in a double pivot. He had 5 progressive passes (2nd), 6 passes into the final third (1st), 6 recoveries (2nd), and the second assist (in my mind at least) on the goal.

3rd Degree got a shoutout on the free Apple TV national broadcast from play by announcer Chris Wittyngham. Super cool. It would have been fun to hear what he was going to say about this article.

Camino del Medio

Unsurprisingly with Sebas Ibeagha at right back (who played very safe) and Herbert Endeley at right wing, FCD was very lopsided right and lacked connection up the right. Endeley had just 13 touches and 9 passes in 54 minutes. This led to Jader Obrian only getting 27 touches, which is a shame given how he’s playing.

The FC Dallas passing network vs Nashville SC on June 3, 2023. (Courtesy
The FC Dallas passing network vs Nashville SC on June 3, 2023. (Courtesy

Yes, the Nolan Norris own goal was a bummer. But what I love about this kid is his mind. I’ve been talking about his soccer brain since he was a U14. And here he showed he’s mentally tough. He didn’t flinch or fold and kept competing in a positive way. I love that.

Muy Feo

The three subs at the 55th minute derailed FCD. They were playing fairly well up until that point but it seemed to fall apart after that. One could probably come up with many reasons why this was the case.

FCD has lost its finishing touch. Not just in the sense of converting shots into goals but just getting them on goal and forcing saves. 14 shots and just 3 of them were on target. That’s not good enough, period. Half of FCD’s shots came from outside the box, FCD had been leading the league in the percentage of shots in the box. Alan Velasco was particularly off, with six shots, and not a single one hit the target perhaps because 5 of his 6 came from outside the box. AV is doing a lot of good things (3 key passes, 20 duels, 4/5 on take-ons, 7 shot-creating actions, and 8 progressive carries ) but shooting isn’t one of them.

Down a goal in added time as FC Dallas chased the game, even moving Nkosi Tafari up to try and get a goal. Jesus Ferreira was playing more as a mid after the subs but at this point, he was standing in the center circle, almost like he was a center back. For the love of Peet, Ferreira is the only one on this team who can score. Get in the damn box. The whole idea is to sacrifice D for O and overload. There is no need to rotate back and fill Tafari’s spot.

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