The Breakdown: Houston Dynamo FC at FC Dallas – May 8, 2021

I’m sure you’ve all heard that uniquely American expression that a tie is like “kissing your sister,” but in the case of a tie at home to your arch-rival and playoff competition, it’s more like a loss.  

In some ways, Dallas might feel hard done by – Luchi will say something about opportunities missed – but that’s a mirage. Los Toros were flat and just didn’t bring the game that was needed.

Regarding the game, obviously, that’s not how we want to play at home, not the result we want but at the end of the day, we’re still undefeated at home. Yeah, we can look at the positives of the game, there were a lot of negatives. We can build on the performance and need to go get three points in Minnesota.

Paxton Pomykal

Dallas now sits in 9th place in the West on 5 points from 4 games (1-1-2 record).

Let’s break it down.

Lineups and Tactics

Having won 4-1 the week before, it came as no surprise that Coach Luchi Gonzalez stuck with mostly the same lineup and 4-2-3-1.   More often, it worked as a single pivot (4-3-3) as most of the time Tanner Tessmann was playing further up as the linker but he did sit in next to Bryan Acosta (the nominal 6) as did Andres Ricaurte a few times too making it three across.

FC Dallas XI vs Houston Dynamo FC, May 8, 2021. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Trying to take the game, Coach G brought on his biggest difference makes, Paxton Pomykal, in the 57th minute for Freddy Vargas.

In the 66th minute it was a double sub, Szabolcs Schön for Tanner Tessmann – which shifted Pomykal to the 8 – and Ricardo Pepi for Franco Jara.

And finally in the 84th minutes, Dante Sealy replaced Jáder Obrian.

Houston also continues in their 4-3-3 but Coach Tab Ramos opted for three defensive minded mids.

Dynamo FC XI at FC Dallas, May 8, 2021. (Courtesy Houston Dynamo FC)

Ramos brought on Darwin Cerén for Derek Jones in the 72nd minute. Then a double sub of Ariel Lassiter for Fafa Picault and Darwin Quintero for Memo Rodríguez in the 84th minute.  Finally Boniek García replaced Matías Vera in the 92nd minute.


0-1 Dynamo FC goal. 34th minute. Fafa Picault converts the PK against his former team. Yes, it was a handball by Bressan.

1-1 FC Dallas Goal. 42nd minute.  Andres Ricaurte sends a switch to Bryan Acosta who makes an offside beating run. Acosta plays a fantastic ball across to Jáder Obrian who puts it away. This is a really good goal.

Lo Bueno

Bryan Acosta was my Man of the Match, I thought he was excellent. He’s playing fantastic soccer this season and might be FCD’s MVP through four games.  97 touches!  87% passing, 1 assist, 2 key passes, 8 for 10 on long passes, 3 tackles, 4 intercepts, 12 pressures, 62 carries, 4 aerials won, and 16 recoveries.

Ryan Hollingshead was his old self at left back. 80% passing, 1 key pass, and 0.34 xA.  57 touches, I’d like to see the team go through him even more.

Ryan Hollingshead passing chart vs Houston Dynamo FC, May 8, 2021.

Andres Ricaurte also continues to have a terrific season. For the 2nd game in a row, he led the team in defensive pressures, this time with 16. He also had 2 shots, 1 key pass, 1 secondary assist, 75% passing, 3 tackles (what?), 4 for 5 on long passes, and 10 recoveries.

Paxton Pomykal – as always – looked the most likely to break the game open late. Just 33 minutes but 92% passing, 63% duels won (of 8), and 2 for 3 on dribbles.  Maybe a couple more weeks and we could see him start.

I haven’t had any setbacks in the past almost five weeks now. I don’t have any pain playing and I’m feeling really good on the field. So I think from a health perspective I’m 100% fitness-wise.

Paxton Pomykal

Also Paxton’s “scarf patch” was awesome.

Camino del Medio

We’re going to talk about shots again down below in a negative framework, but FCD had 84% of their shots come in the box. That’s good shot selection.  Are they being overly selective? Maybe. See blow.

Muy Feo

Bressan had a bit of a nightmare game. Maybe he’s reading his own press? (Never do that, by the way) Some ok defensive actions – 4 interceptions, 3 clearances, and 3 blocks – but 4 fouls committed including the PK. A yellow card, just 4 for 8 on long passes, only 3 pressures, 0 tackles, 5 recoveries, and an overall rough night. I think it will be an easy choice for Coach G on which CB sits for Matt Hedges this week (probably).

Despite the fact that FC Dallas enjoyed a 55 to 45 advantage in the possession percentage and an 82 to 77 percent advantage in passing accuracy… FCD was outshot 15 to 13 at home. A paltry 13 shots at home is not good.  And 7 of those shots came off set pieces… which means just 6 were from open play. That’s not good.  FCD continues to move the ball around the midfield pretty well but they just aren’t getting enough forward touches.  Vargas continued to get the most with 34. Jara 26 and Obrian just 21 is disappointing.

I’m not disappointed with our physical and our mental effort today. It was just more that quality of hurting their last line and getting crosses, getting balls in behind and getting two versus one wide, one versus one wide. We didn’t create enough of those situations to earn more than just one point today. 

Luchi Gonzalez

Low touches for Obrian on the right wing may partially be due to Eddie Munjoma not getting forward enough.  FCD is attacked down the left 41% of the time to just 27% on the right. Eddie’s defense was better this game but there was little offense.  Can FCD afford for him to play in over the first half of the season?  That’s what NTX last year should have been for. I still think Eddie’s not ready for MLS but Ema Twumasi seems to not be fit yet either. So there may not be an option on the roster. You can understand why Luchi was forcing Hollingshead right early this year.

I really hated the Szabolcs Schön sub. I didn’t even like him being on the bench. Coach Gonzalez mentioned something about having Schön watch video before he came so he would be up to speed, but that’s junk. No video makes up for the real thing. By only having two days of training, Luchi broke his own unofficial rule about training on Wednesdays. Maybe I could buy the right scenario of a big lead bringing him in… but the kid had zero impact – just 11 touches – and even if he had gotten more it was still a wasted sub in a game against an arch-rival FCD will be battling for a playoff spot. Even having Schön on the bench took away an attacking sub-options like Thomas Roberts – who looked amazing in training – or Kalil ElMedkhar – who was the best North Texas SC player on Saturday night.  Heck, Ema Twumasi was on the bench, I would have rather seen him at left wing.

There’s always that that risk when you have a new player and they’re adapting. We’ve done video with him even before he got here. He’s studied our games. We also saw him ready because he trained all week doing individual training with fitness, ball work, and then he joined the group.

Luchi Gonzalez

Instant Reaction – 3 Things

Next Game

FC Dallas travel to Minnesota to face the winless – and desperate – Loons. So it’s either a chance for some road points against a bad team or it’s a rough going against a team with its back against the wall already. Kickoff at 7 pm CT on TXA 21.

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