The Breakdown – FC Dallas vs St Louis City, June 2024

FC Dallas got a much-needed 3 points with the 2-0 over St Louis City, but we’ve got to be real. While there were a lot of nice moments and some good trends, overall it’s still not good.

“It’s a lot of emotion to win this first game. I need to be honest, I know it’s a win but we need to do better. We need to do better.”

Interim Head Coach Peter Luccin

Lineups and Tactics

Coach Peter Luccin – much to my surprise – stuck with the 3-4-3 under the stated “not enough time” to change it. This team should have had no problem swapping to that shape with little prep. The bulk of this roster played 4-3-3 the last two seasons, they have worked on it in training, and they have used it in multiple games this year.

The only changes from the final Nico Estevez game were the dropping of Sam Junqua with Omar Gonzalez playing central and Sebastian Lletget in for Liam Fraser.

FC Dallas XI vs St Lous City, June 15, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)
FC Dallas XI vs St Lous City, June 15, 2024. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

All the FC Dallas subs seemed to be tactical in this one, we’re not used to seeing that. At the 63rd minute, Tsiki Ntsabeleng came on for the Patrickson Delgado, and Logan Farrington replaced Jesus Ferreira to put fresh legs into the dangerous positions.

85th minute, Liam Fraser replaced Lletget for some D in midfield and Bernard Kamungo brought some fresh legs for Petar Musa to chase and pressure up top.

Finally, Sam Junqua came on for Marco Farfan to close the game out.

Since the St Louis social media are cowards and won’t post a shape, we go to MLS.

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The St Louis City XI at FC Dallas, June 15, 2024. (Courtesy MLS)

Unfortunately for them, St Louis had two first-half injuries that required subs. Nökkvi Thórisson came on in the 20th minute after Célio Pompeu broke his leg and dislocated his ankle. Minutes later, Joakim Nilsson went off with an apparent hamstring problem. Joshua Yaro took his place in the 36th.

In the 77th, St Louis ran a triple sub with John Klein, Samuel Adeniran and Aziel Jackson coming on for Njabulo Blom, Klauss, and Hosei Kjima.


Dan Crooke talked about the goals in his post-game report.

Lo Bueno

My Man of the Match was Sebastian Lletget. I picked him because his presence in the midfield made the biggest difference for me in terms of possession, linking play, build-out, and progression. He had 49 touches, 9 less than Illarramendi. 92% passing, 1 assist, 1 key pass, 3 passes into the final third, and 6 progressive passes. Defensively, he was 3/4 on tackles with 5 recoveries. That kind of ball game has been seriously missing in midfield.

Maarten Paes could easily MotM too with 8 saves. This was his 6th game this year with 7+ saves and he’s had 5+ for the last 6 straight games. Yes, amazing. He’s in the discussion – maybe even leading the discussion – for the best keeper in club history. However, the fact that he’s having to make this many saves is bad.

Nkosi Tafari was also excellent. Best game in a few. He also could have been MOTM as he was for the club. I like him so much more when he has the freedom to attack and be aggressive. When he has to sit in cover-up mode I think it takes him out of a competitive brain space. 3/3 on tackles, 3/4 on aerial duels, 4 clears, 3 blocks, 1 intercept, and 8 recoveries. 69 touches led the team and while 76% passing is lower than we might like, he did have 4 into the final third. Great goal too.

“The energy and the mindset is really what we’re striving for. I think you could definitely tell there was a different camaraderie on the field. The quality was a little bit lacking, like we would really like to push better in the quality, but the camaraderie is really what got us the win today, everybody fought for each other.”

Nkosi Tafari

Maarten Paes and Nkosi Tafari both made MLS Team of the Week. Nice.

Camino del Medio

I like the verticality and freedom to play that Luccin game his team but it didn’t result in chances. But – BIG BUT – This game was in the lower end this season on passes into the final third and box, xA, crosses into the box, and non-penalty xG… just to name a few.

I look at these stats and it’s not good enough but I want to say something to the work that the boys put out there. It’s a high level. Now we adjust to help them understand. I know we have been talking about verticality these past four days, but we need to read the game better. It’s my job to help them understand. 

Interim Head Coach Peter Luccin

A very solid game from Omar Gonzalez. the question was never about his ability, just his age and durability. Once Luccin picked the 3-4-3, I liked the choice to put him central in this system. A paltry 37 touches and given he was passing at a 90% clip some more play through him would be nice. 4 clears but 0 tackles. 2 blocks and 4 recoveries. The struggle with pace is real but his game reading so far is making up for it.

Muy Feo

I didn’t like dropping Sam Junqua. He’s been for me the most consistently performing defender on this team this year and his passing is quite good. Once Gonzalez came into the middle, I would have liked to see Junqua at wingback.

FCD struggled mightily to contain Eduard Lowen. The German was sitting deep as a playmaker and in a 3-4-3 as FCD plays it that’s the job of the two 10s to get back and harrase that guy. He had 97 touches with 11 shot-creating actions! Lowen was 3/5 on take-ons with 5 progressive carries (4 of them into the final third).

22 shots and 8 on target off of 14 crosses is far too much for a road team. That led to a 1.7 xG for the Slou’s. That’s not sustainable even with Paes playing lights out.

Instant Reaction – 3 Things


  1. They’ve got problems that probably aren’t going anywhere without some roster moves. But I thought 2 really promising signs were that: 1 the players seemed like they were having more fun. (I mean that may have been Jesus’s first smile of the season while he was dancing around after his PK) and 2 hearing Luccin talk about not being up to standard and needing to improve after the match rather than the Nico press conferences of ‘we played a really good complete game against a really good opponent’ seemingly playing on a loop when everyone who watched the game feels very differently about what they just saw.

    There’s always some honeymoon goggles with a new coach so I’m trying to keep some perspective, but I can’t help but feel excited about the guy.

  2. Cody, agreed. I still don’t like 85th minute & later subs, but overall, way more fun to watch, and a refreshing coaching approach, after our last two dismal coaches. Nice guys I’m sure, but so I am, and I can’t coach either!

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