The Breakdown: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas – Sept 12, 2020

Texas Derby rivals Houston Dynamo were in town on Saturday, that’s a matchup that always raises the stakes. FC Dallas looked pretty dang good in the 2-1 win and considering how good Houston has been of late there are a lot of positives to build on.

It’s a great feeling to get the win. That’s a very good team. That’s a team that is in good form. That’s a team that plays football and is very hard to beat because they control a lot of moments of the game with possession and the midfield.

Luchi Gonzalez

Let’s break it down…

Lineups and Tactics

FC Dallas Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez went back to the 4-3-3 but with a single-pivot that we haven’t seen in a while. As we expected, Bryan Reynolds and Ryan Hollingshead were the right and left outside backs.  Matt Hedges returned, Tanner Tessmann got the nod in midfield, and Santiago Mosquera was a surprise selection at left wing. Andres Ricaurte made his first start as the “free-8.”

FCD starting XI vs Houston, Sept 12, 2020.

Ricardo Pepi replaced Mosquera in the 68th minute and Brandon Servania replaced Tanner Tessmann.  In the 80th minute, Edwin Cerrillo came on for Ricaurte – who was probably on a fitness minutes check – and the team shifted more to a double picot look.

Then in the 86th minute, Bressan replaced Franco Jara shifting the team into a 3-5-2.

FCD’s late game 3-5-2 vs HOU, Sept 12, 2020.

Houston Coach Tab Ramos continues to use a 4-3-3 but was without Alberth Elis who is joining Reggie Cannon at Boavista. 

Houston starting XI at FC Dallas, Sept. 12, 2020.

Christian Ramirez came on for Adam Lundkvist in the 79th minute as Dynamo looked for some offense.   Then Óscar García relaced Darwin Cerén in the 81st minute and Nico Lemoine replaced Memo Rodríguez in the 90th.


1-0 FC Dallas goal. 28th minute.  Andre Ricaurte scores one of the most amazing debut goals you will ever see.

I mean honestly, I just can’t even.

That goal was a special goal. It’s obviously something that a coach can’t influence. That’s just something that a coach can enjoy. 

Luchi Gonzalez

1-1 Houston Dynamo goal. 41st minute.  FCD gives up a free kick in just about the most dangerous spot on the field. Memo Rodriguez steps up and blasts a screamer into the net.

2-1 FC Dallas Goal. 61st minute. Michael Barrios makes a recovery in the offensive zone and plays some back and forth with Ryan Holllinghead before chipping into the box for Franco Jara. Jara makes a classy flip shot for the goal.

El Bueno

Bryan Reynolds was my Man of the Match.  Man, so much talent on display.  Verticality, end to end, recovery speed, crossing, attacking into the box.  His incomplete passes in his own end were all long balls so aren’t killing his team. 64 touches (3rd on team behind Ricaurte and Santos), 80% passing, 1 shot, 1 key pass, ZERO times dispossessed, 1 tackle, 1 intercept, 2 clears, 5 crosses, and 5 for 8 on long balls. All from a 19-year-old making his 2nd start.

I feel really good playing with Mikey [Barrios]. I feel we get forward pretty well together and I’m just excited to keep playing with him.

Bryan Reynolds

Andres Ricaurte



Andres Ricaurte passing chart vs Houston, September 12, 2020. (Courtesy MLS)

I liked the balanced attack by FCD, 34% left, 38% right. That’s a big improvement from the last few games. Maybe it’s Mosquera – who is an actual left wing – and Hollingshead at left back?  The average position is really good too. Terrific team shape.

The FC Dallas average position vs Houston Dynamo, September 12, 2020.

Kyle Zobeck had a solid night, he made a couple saves when needed.  This one in particular was quite nice and kept Dallas in the lead.

I was admiring Reto Ziegler’s game reading and positioning.  If you have a young center back in your house, have them watch Ziegler on iso. It’s impressive how early he moves. It’s the reason he’s still starting at 34.  

Matt Hedges. Bro… 93% passing. 6 clearances.  3 blocks. 6 for 7 on long balls. Unreal.

Franco Jara looked better. Still slow, but the team was higher in possession around him so he was able to stay higher up the field. That’s a good change. 3 shots, 1 goal, 2 key passes. 77% passing by a striker is really impressive. 2 dribbles (5 attempts). Still, room to improve but this was better. And now he’s the undisputed guy.

I liked the single-pivot with Thiago Santos on an island. That’s more to my liking with Tessmann and Ricaurte as dual-8s. Ricaurte in the slightly higher “free-8” role and Tessmann as the linking 8.

Camino del Medio

Tanner Tessmann and Brandon Servania seem to be almost splitting time since Bryan Acosta went out.  Neither has been bad but neither has done enough to lock down the spot and keep Acosta form walking back in when healthy.  Tessmann was fine. 86% passing on 43 touches and he covered a good chunk of ground. Just not as good as Acosta.

Muy Feo

Granted FCD was leading much of the game but Los Toros got out possessed at home 48% to 52% and outshot 13 to 16.  Out dueled 35 to 41, out tackled 7 to 8.   Obviously none of these are killer and I do want to think it’s just the mentality of a leading team and a trailing team. But it may be this team has an intensity issue (no Kobra?). Certainly it’s fair to say it has lacked some intensity since Camp Covid.

Santiago Mosquera on paper was ok: 88% passing, 3 crosses, 3 for 4 on long balls, 1 shot on target, 40 touches… but the eye test just isn’t there for me.  Nothing comes of his play. And if you check the passing chart it’s all sideways or backward.  Compare it to Barrios on the other wing – who wasn’t great either – and look how little there is in the final third. For a DP this isn’t good enough.

This was the last game with Kobra (Zdeněk Ondrášek) on the FC Dallas roster. That’s a bummer regardless of what anyone thinks of his game. What a guy, his attitude and personality are infectious and make this team better. He was very well-liked in the locker room. We’re all going to miss having him around.

Next Game

It’s the final game of Phase One of the 2020 season for FC Dallas in the rescheduled meeting with the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday. Kickoff at 7:30 pm.

Ok, this is cool.


  1. It was nice having a decent tv broadcast so I could actually watch the match. Thanks FCD. So it turns out that having a creative 10 in the midfield who can move the ball around the pitch makes FCD a much better team. I’m hoping Pomykal can assume that role at some point in the future if he can ever stay healthy. Bryan Reynolds has the potential to be a really great RB. He’s actually further along at his age than Reggie Cannon was at the same age. As far as the team as a whole goes….meh…they definitely looked much better with Ricaurte in the midfield and a dominant RB causing havoc on the right wing but there was still much to be desired. Santos still loses the ball a lot and Hollingshead is not much better at keeping possession. Houston were the better side in many regards. Mosquera is at best average. I would like to see Dante Sealy get minutes. I’m trying to remember that FCD is really young with all it’s academy products. Once they gets more minutes and become more comfortable being on the pitch at this level, the game will slow down for them and they’ll get better. The fact that many of them are still just 17, 18, 19 and they’re holding their own at this level is just startling. I’m optimistic about the future of this club

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