The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs San Jose Earthquakes

And thus, after another tie, FC Dallas ends its seven six games in twenty-two days streak with a 1-0-5 record for 8 points. The weather delay of the Rapids game eased the load a little bit reducing it to six games.

FC Dallas’ magic number is now 3. Two ties in the remaining two games is no guarantee of playoffs. Win one of them and Los Toros are in.

“It has been a tough year for the team and me. Things have not gone the way we expected but the mentality and group effort of the team collectively push us to continue working hard and not put our heads down. There are many great qualities about this team, we have one of the best defenses in the league and moving forwards we have to continue to get better and not lose focus. This is the moment in which the big players have to show up and stand out in order for the team to clinch into playoffs.”

Captain Paul Arriola

Lineups and Tactics

To face San Jose, Coach Nico Estevez put FC Dallas out the same 4-4-2 that was announced for the canceled game against the Rapids with what looked like a double-8 of Asier Illarramendi and Paxton Pomykal. In reality, Illarra played the more stay-at-home 6-like role. Otherwise, the XI was pretty straightforward.

FC Dallas XI vs San Jose Earthquakes, October 9, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI vs San Jose Earthquakes, October 9, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

In the 84th minute, Facundo Quignon came on for Paxton Pomykal in the same position. This sure looked like a “don’t lose” sub, Facu having a more defensive mindset.

87th minute, Bernard Kaumgo replaced Jader Obrian to get some fresh legs into the offense.

Then in the 93rd, Jesus Jimenez came on for Paul Arriola for reasons.

San Jose socials didn’t put out a shape and most of the soccer outlets wrote it up as 4-2-3-1 but having watched it for 90 minutes it sure as heck looked like a very disciplined and defensive 4-4-2 with Matthew Hoppe playing next to Jeremy Ebobisse. The two-man front was reflected in the average position so I’m sticking with it.

The San Jose XI vs FC Dallas, October 8, 2023.

62nd minute, Jamiro Monteiro and Cade Cowell replaced Matthew Hoppe and Paul Marie.

82nd minute, Judson came on for Jeremy Ebobisse and finally, in the 95th minute, Jonathan Mensah replaced Cristian Espinoza.


San Jose 0-1. 3rd minute. A great cross by Jackson Yueill just behind the CBs catches Maarten Paes in no man’s land, Jeremy Ebobisse slides for the ball and redirects it in.

FC Dallas 1-1. 57th minute. Asier Illarramendi plays a splitting linebreaker to Jesus Ferreira. Ferreira’s perfectly weighted over-the-top ball frees Jader Obrian for the goal. Just a really lovely sequence.

Lo Bueno

My FCD Man of the Match was Jader Obrian. As I mentioned in my three things, it was only about 1/4 because of his goal. It was mostly because he was the only FCD player who wanted to be the protagonist in the first half. So for that energy, work rate, and desire he earned my respect and the MotM.

On top of this 94% passing, Asier Illarramendi had 130 touches. 130! That’s incredible. And he had 17 passes into the final third. SEVENTEEN!

Paxton Pomykal also had a really nice afternoon. 83 touches, 84% passing, 10 progressive passes, and 7 into the final third.

As awful as the first half was by FCD, see below, the 2nd half was great. They continued to dominate possession but started creating chances. While 8 shots isn’t crazy high for a half of soccer it’s standout compared to 2 in the first.

“The resilience that this team has, and how this team responds to adversity is a positive. You can say that things have not always gone our way this season, and we overcome that adversity. We controlled the game after the bad start.

Coach Nico Estevez

70% of the FCD shots came in the box. That’s good for a team that is usually quite efficient. Just needed the first-half effort to equal the second.

“It is a season that has been difficult for us as the scores do not reflect what has been shown throughout the games. There have been several opportunities that we have let go, and that we know we are expected to finish.”

Paul Arriola

Camino del Medio

Two very different 4-4-2s were on display in a fascinating contradiction. San Jose was in a shape that was very disciplined, stable, and covered the field making it very difficult for FC Dallas to break them down. FCD’s 4-4-2 was fluid with parts moving, interchanging, and swapping both forward and back.

“San Jose’s setup to get a point on the road. Looking at the playoff spot they’re currently in, it’s clear they came here to just get a point. They were very compact defensively, so we had to move around, and I still felt like we created good chances.”

Ema Twumasi

The two-striker system shifted Jesus Ferreira a little to the right side, which is – in and of itself – fine. Ferreira even had 78 touches, which one might think was fantastic. Heck yes, our best goal scorer had 78 touches! But look where they are. Ferreira kept coming back into midfield looking for the ball (tight defense) and for large portions of the game seemed to be playing as a midfielder. He was fantastic back there (mostly in the 2nd half) with 7 shot-creating actions, 1 assist, 4 key passes, 4 passes into the final third, 5 passes into the penalty box, 9 progressive passes, and an xA of 0.8. He created the goal. Again, by itself, that would be great if he kept getting forward into the box and got chances. But he didn’t. And that’s bad. He’s the club’s best finisher and he wasn’t getting shots (2).

Jesus Ferreira touches vs San Jose, October 7, 2023. (Courtesy

Muy Feo

The first-half performance by FC Dallas was atrocious. Just shockingly bad. San Jose played Nico-Ball (defensive shape, discipline, structure, rapid transition to get chances) and FC Dallas played Luchi-Ball (high possession with limited chance creation). FCD had 68% possession to San Jose’s 32%… but San Jose outshot FCD 8 to 2. 68% possession with just 1 shot on target is just awful. It seemed FCD was just content to pass it around with only the aforementioned Obrian working his tail off.

“We had a bad start over the first 10 minutes, we were not in the right spot mentally. We came in with too much stress and pressure. It was the first time that I noticed it this year. These players are human, and these things can happen.”

Coach Nico Estevez

FC Dallas had 27 crosses on the night. That’s the 2nd highest total on the season. A low-driven cross on the break or in transition is great, that’s usually an FCD hallmark. But when you are FC Short against a low block, crosses into the box for header by a bunch of shrimps is a bad idea.

I wasn’t joking about FCD playing Luchi-Ball. 701 passes on the night. Highest this season by about 100.

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