The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City

FC Dallas rallied to beat Sporting KC 2-1 this weekend. A win is a win but there are a few concerns.

“We are happy with the win, winning at home is important. The boys know that and in the second half they turned it on and showed we were hungry for the win.” – Coach Nico Estevez.

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

FC Dallas maintains the 4-3-3 but Coach Nico Estevez – in a move most observers expected, including us — opts for one change from last week with Jose Martinez at center back.

FC Dallas XI vs Sporting KC on Mar 18, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI vs Sporting KC on Mar 18, 2023. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

After Paxton Pomykal felt “something” in his hamstring, FCD brought Tsiki Ntsabeleng on for him in the 59th minute.

The “double-Jesus” sub occurred in the 82nd minute with Jesus Jimenez replacing Sebastian Lletget and Geovane Jesus replacing Ema Twumasi. These subs shifted FCD into a 4-4-2.

FCD XI in the 4-4-2 vs Sporting KC, March 18, 2023.

One could argue it was a 4-2-3-1 but I felt with Ferreira staying high and the wings taking up wide spots it was a 4-4-2. More on this down below.

Final subs in the 92nd minute, Sebas Ibeagha and Facundo Quignon on for Paul Arriola and Alan Velasco. This shifted FCD into a 5-4-1.

FCD XI at the end of game vs Sporting KC, March 18, 2023.

Sporting also in a 4-3-3.

Sporting KC starting XI vs FC Dallas on March 18, 2023. (Courtesy Sporting KC)

Credit to Sporting for posting their shape, FC Dallas does as well but a large number of teams don’t.


Sporting KC 0-1. 11th minute.

Nkosi Tafari gets a foot to the ball to clear it from the KC 9 but it falls into a dangerous spot. Daniel Salloi makes the underneath run and Ema Twumasi lets him go probably thinking Edwin Cerrillo will be there but Ceriilo is a touch deep. Also, Salloi is really good and tough to track, he hits a banger for the goal.

FC Dallas 1-1. 55th Minute.

Alan Velasco feeds Sebastian Lletget and gets the layoff back. Another fantastic goal from the young argentine.

FC Dallas 2-1. 84th minute.

FC Dallas overloads the Sporting left back with Paul Arriola and Geovane Jesus to force the turnover. Jesus crosses to.. um… Jesus (Geovane to Ferreira) whose first shot is saved but he manages to get the rebound for the goal.

Lo Bueno

Man of the Match: Maarten Paes. The double PK save is a thing of beauty. All the dude does is make big saves to win his team games. Paes was named to the MLS Team of the Week.

“In our instance, the penalty kick save was massive for us. The message Maarten [Paes] sent to his teammates was ‘Hey I am here; do your job and I will do mine. Let’s go’. We know how competitive he is and how good of a goalkeeper he is. We are grateful to have him here.”

Coach Nico Estevez

Jesus Ferreira is living in elite company.

Players Under 22Goal ContributionsGoalsAssists
Diego Fagundez734132
Diego Rossi624230
Jesus Ferreira613922
Landon Donovan613229

Love the tactical shift to the 4-4-2. The overload created the goal. Partway through the first half I was wishing they would shift into a wider midfield. I thought it might happen at halftime but Coach Nico finally for to it much later than I wanted.

Coach Estevez is spreading mentality as the “buzz word” this year and the comeback in this one again shows this team is becoming mentally tough. You gotta love it.

“I always say that soccer is about momentum. You could have a lead with the opponents not playing at their best, but scoring one goal can change the momentum of the game. This psychological part of the game is difficult to control. We have seen big teams winning and have ended up falling short at the end because the opponent’s caught momentum with one goal that they scored.”

Coach Nico Estevez

I thought Edwin Cerrillo‘s off-ball movement was really good, every time there was a transition he seemed to be there to cover up for his teammates. 7 recoveries and 3 intercepts (both 1st FCD) reflect that. 3rd most touches (75), 2nd most pass receptions (55), 2nd most progressive passes (5), 2nd most blocks (3), and 3rd most carries (47). He’s becoming the volume player in the FCD middle and I like his continued development. He has a ways to go still. (Stats FBref)

José Martínez and Edwin Cerrillo both started in their 50th MLS match of the season

Camino del Medio

I think we’re just going to have to live with the low show totals. 12 shots in this one. This team will live or die by its efficiency.

Too small a sample to say much about Jesus Jimenez, but I think you can see the constant activity and engagement that I have liked in training. He doesn’t just stand around out there.

Muy Feo

This current version of the FC Dallas defense isn’t super great at playing out of the back. That’s something that will need work. Maarten Paes’ weakness is his feet and some of the defensive line are just ok passers.

This makes 3 of 4 games in which the opposition has compressed and clogged the midfield to great effect. Sporting used a mid-block in this game. Because of the Sporting press plus block, FCD played longer trying to go over more than usual (hence me wanting to widen midfield). Paes was 6 for 12 on long balls. Tafari 4 for 12. Martinez 3 for 8. Not great, Bob.

The first half performance by FCD was really poor. I tweeted the word lethargic but you could have used words like passive, hesitant, flat, and stagnant. Sporting was sharper and crisper across the board and got to everything more quickly. Here are two very telling halftime stats…

Dribble Success: FCD 17%, SKC 75%.
Duel Win Pct: FCD 29%, SKC 71%.


Hopefully, Paxton Pomykal is ok.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. Any interest in giving Geovane a start at RB to try to squeeze out a few more shots? We’re on year 3 of Twumasi giving diddly-squat in the final 3rd from that spot (he’s actually ticked up slightly yoy in the counting stats, but he’s still not exactly a dynamic attacking threat).

    1. Eventually yes, but for this coach I think Geo needs to lock down the defensive shape first.
      It might also surprise you to hear Twumasi tied for the 2nd most shot-creating actions for FCD in this game and tied for the most passes into the penalty area.

Leave a Reply

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