Oscar Pareja is known as a manager for his tactical tweaks and there were a couple that caught my eye in the last week of playoff games that I wanted to bring up.
Tesho's two very different roles
Rookie of the year frontrunner Tesho Akindele's role with FC Dallas varied over the last two months of the season as the rookie, who had started 14 straight games, appeared in the starting XI just three times over the last eight games of the regular season.
However, the Colorado School of Mines product has started both of FCD's playoff games, though his roles were very different in the two matches.
Against Vancouver, Akindele was played on the right side of the 4-2-3-1 formation and was a relatively purely offensive player in the match. As you can see from the game's OPTA Chalkboard, Akindele's defensive efforts were mainly simple clearances from set pieces looking to get up the field as quickly as possible to add to the attack. He and Castillo switched sides to effective results during the match and Tesho had the fantastic effort to open the scoring just before halftime.
The OPTA Chalkboard showed 10 "defensive" actions for Akindele in Wednesday's match with six of those coming in his defensive third and four of those in the box, presumably off set pieces. His heat map to the left showed he roamed around the field for the most part looking to combine with Castillo, Diaz and Perez up front.
The relatively direct attack of Vancouver was, by and large, snuffed out by the excellent center back duo of Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges with outside backs Zach Loyd and Je-Vaughn Watson cleaning up anything from the wings.
FC Dallas didn't need a huge defensive effort from their wingers against a Vancouver team that does not really rely on their outside backs to provide offense.
Oscar asked for a much different role from him star rookie against the Seattle Sounders, a team with arguably the most offensive outside back in Major League Soccer.
We'll talk about its effectiveness in a moment, but first I want to simply look at the role Tesho played against Seattle. Oscar asked him to sacrifice his offensive opportunities on Sunday night to work in conjunction with Moises Hernandez in slowing down the Sounders' right side of Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, the guy who unleashed a rocket-shot goal in their previous meeting.
As you can see from his heat map to the left, Tesho's role was much more defined in Sunday's game asking him to play a high defensive pressure game against the Sounders' right side duo. His actions are, for the vast majority, in one 30% area on the left side of the midfield, also in the 4-2-3-1 though not as defined as the one with Mauro at the #10 role.
As mentioned earlier, Tesho had 10 "defensive" actions in Wednesday's match mainly in the defensive third of the field where defending is a necesssity. Against Seattle, Akindele had 13 "defensive" actions, but they were almost exclusively in that middle third left side of the pitch where you see the heat map defining.
Tesho was asked to combine with Moises Hernandez to shut down DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, something Dallas did extremely effectively. Pareja praised Tesho's efforts after Sunday's match.
Now let's talk about just how well the Dallas defense did against Yedlin
Slowing down the best attacking outside back in MLS
DeAndre Yedlin's star has risen faster than perhaps any young player in MLS history. The 21-year-old earned a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur on the back of a great performance in the World Cup and while his defensive talents can certainly be scrutinzed, there is no doubt that he is absolutely dynamic going forward and when he plays well, really good things happen for Seattle.
As mentioned before, FCD dispatched a two-pronged defensive of the ultra-athletic Tesho Akindele with Moises Hernandez to stick with Yedlin all evening and it worked wonders.
First, let's look at the last time FCD played Seattle. Dallas played a straightforward 4-4-2 with two left backs, Jair Benitez and Hernandez, and it wasn't the most effective thing ever. As you can see from Yedlin's heat map and stats from that first game, he pretty much had his run of show in the first matchup back in September. 45 completed passes up and down the right side of the pitch, five crosses, etc...
Being the amazing coach that he is, Pareja knew they'd need better results against Yedlin in the second match, so he put in another thoroughbred that could contain Yedlin in Tesho Akindele. As we mentioned earlier, Akindele hung with Neagle and Yedlin every step of the way combining with the excellent Moises Hernandez to make the Sounders' left side ineffective and practically non-existent in the first leg.
As you can see, Yedlin's heat map from Sunday tells an extremely different story from the match back in September. Yedlin completed 80%(45/56) of his passes in September's game compared to just 46%(14/30) of his passes on Sunday. According to the OPTA Chalkboard, Yedlin had 18 attemped or completed passes in the Dallas half in September's match compared to just six on Sunday and Yedlin had just one attempted pass in the FCD final third in the entire match. The stats on Neagle are very similar and it says enough that he was subbed out in the 65th minute.
The numbers are even more impressive when you look at Yedlin's previous matches before Sunday's playoff game.
OPTA Chalkboards of Yedlin's last five matches vs LA, at LA, at COL, vs CHV, at FCD show that Sunday was by far the lowest completed passes he's had in quite some time, his lowest percentage of completed passes and by far his most conservative heat map of the previous month showing FCD did a fantastic job of both keeping him pinned in his own half and limiting his crosses.
The flip side to all of this is, of course, the fact that Seattle seemed pretty content to sit back for most of the game. Much more than they typically do on the road, a team that by far led MLS in road goals scored this season.
It'll be a huge task to do it again in Seattle, but Dallas certainly was able to do it in their own house.
Here are the best photos from Sunday's epic crowd and epic game vs Seattle Sounders FC
Throughout the last month, IndyCar driver Townsend Bell and Continental Tire have challenged MLS players in a special series called "What'Cha Got?"
The players drive a special tricked out Lamborghini looking to set the quickest time. The winner of the competition will actually get to keep the special Lambo for an entire year.
The series has aired on ESPNFC on Sunday nights and given the fact that FCD fans packed Toyota Stadium last night for our 1-1 Western Conference semifinal draw against Seattle, plenty of you probably missed last night's segment during which center back Stephen Keel took the What'Cha Got challenge.
Never fear, we've got the segment right here. We won't spoil anything except to say cup holders definitely play a huge part in Stephen Keel's car decisions.
FC Dallas survived Wednesday's knockout round match against Vancouver, earning a two-legged playoff against top-seeded Seattle Sounders FC beginning on Sunday night at 8:00PM at Toyota STadium. Here are the 10 things you need to know before heading to the stadium.
1. We are declaring it #RedSunday across DFW. This means everyone coming to Toyota Stadium on Sunday night must wear red in support of FC Dallas. Let's turn Toyota Stadium into a sea of red that sends the Sounders packing.
2. Our honorary Lamar Hunt Statue scarfer on Sunday night will be 1310 The Ticket's own Corby Davidson from The Hardline. Be sure to join us on the north concourse at 7:25 for that ceremony.
3. ARRIVE EARLY on Sunday as our first 10,000 fans will receive #RedForGlory scarves courtesy of Chase & Toyota. If you received one on Wednesday, we encourage you to bring it back Sunday so we can have one in the hands of every single person in the stadium.
4. Do the words "two-legged" game, "away goals" or "extra time" confuse you? Take a read of our playoff rules primer explaining everything about how FC Dallas can advance to the next round.
6. Sunday's match kicks off just after 8:00PM and is live nationally on ESPN2 with Adrian Healey, Taylor Twellman & Alexi Lalas. You can also catch the match on 100.7FM with Steve Davis & 1270AM with Carlos Alvarado & Rafa Calderon. Additionally, when driving home from the stadium, 100.7FM now has a post-game show so be sure to turn that on during the drive home.
8. It's going to be absolutely gorgeous on Sunday with a high of 70 and a low of 55. With the 8:00PM kickoff and the Cowboys playing at 12:00PM, we expect a huge crowd of tailgaters getting ready for Sunday's big playoff game.
9. Since you're all going to be at the stadium, set your DVR to record Stephen Keel's appearance on Whatcha Got MLS? It's a special segment on ESPNFC directly after our game in which Keel races a Lambo against other MLS players to potentially win the car. Check it out!
10. If you don't have tickets yet, there are still some available here.
It's Halloween night and we want to see your #DTID pride on October 31st!
Our #RedSunday playoff game vs Seattle Sounders FC is just a couple days away and you could win a field-side table for four for the huge match.
Simply send us a picture on Twitter or Instagram with #FCDHalloween whether it's a costume, pumpkin or anything else #DTID.
Every picture is an entry to win and we'll pick a winner randomly on Saturday afternoon!
The Untapped Dallas music and craft beer festival is coming to the area around Gilley's just south of downtown on Saturday, November 1st starting at 3:30PM and features an extraordinary beer list of more than 300+ high-quality, specially selected brews, along with an equally vibrant lineup of bands and musicians, a local artisan village with artists and vendors, and plenty of other entertainment and surprises.
It's a pretty unbelievable lineup of bands and an amazing day out in Dallas, and FC Dallas is sponsoring the Game Garden at Untapped Festival including games like giant Jenga, Connect Four and much more.
We will be out there all day so be sure to stop by our area and if you don't have tickets yet, click here to get yours.
2014 has been a record-setting year and the best home year in franchise history. But we're not done. The passion of the fans at Wednesday's knockout match vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC was simply incredible and we want to take the support to another level in Sunday's Western Conference Semifinal vs Seattle Sounders FC.
We're declaring it #RedSunday at Toyota Stadium and encouraging all fans to wear red to Sunday's match. No excuses, we need everyone in the stadium to be in their best FCD red to support the boys as we look to take down the #1 seed.
We beat them 3-1 just a month ago, and we're going to do it again. Toyota Stadium will be a sea of red on #RedSunday and we need everyone to do their part.
#RedSunday is coming. Let's do this.
On Wednesday night, FC Dallas clinched their spot in the MLS Western Conference Semifinals with a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the wild card round match and with that brings a new playoff format.
Those of you who are UEFA Champions League die-hards will know exactly what a "two-legged aggregate" playoff means, but for those of who you follow FC Dallas either casually or fanatically, we're here to explain the ins and outs of the system.
Two games, one winner
Over the next week and a half, FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC will play twice, at Toyota Stadium on Sunday, November 2nd at 8:00PM and at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Monday, November 10th at 9:30PM. The two games will be normal 90-minute MLS matches, but it's the combined score of the two matches that will determine who moves on to the Western Conference Finals. Let's go through a few scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-0 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 1-0. FCD would advance to the conference finals because the combined, aggregate score is 2-1 FC Dallas.
FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC draw 0-0 in the "first leg" in Frisco and Seattle wins 2-0 in the "second leg." Seattle would advance to the conference finals with a 2-0 aggregate win.
That make sense? Well let's talk about ties.
Should FC Dallas and Seattle be tied in aggregate score after the games in Frisco and Seattle, one of two things will happen.
First off, let's talk about "away goals." Again, those of you who watch the UEFA Champions League are familiar with this rule and basically it means if the game is tied after 180 minutes, two games, whoever scored the most goals in the other team's house will advance to the conference finals. Again, let's go through a couple scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-1 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 1-0. Despite being tied 2-2 on aggregate, Seattle would advance to the conference finals because they have one "away goal" to FCD's zero.
FC Dallas and Seattle draw 1-1 in the "first leg" in Frisco and draw 2-2 in the "second leg" in Seattle. Despite being tied 3-3 on aggregate, FC Dallas would advance to the conference finals because they will have two "away goals" to Seattle's one.
Extra time and shootout
If the teams are tied after both games and also tied on away goals, the match will go to 30 minutes of extra time and if it is still tied, we will go to penalty kicks. You saw both of those scenarios in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup semifinal against Philadelphia Union earlier this year. Away goals is not in effect once you get to overtime. Basically, if both games finish with the same score, we're going to overtime.
Again, let's go through scenarios:
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 2-1 and Seattle wins the "second leg" in Seattle 2-1. The teams would go to 30 minutes of extra time after the second game in Seattle as the teams are tied on score and away goals. If neither team scores in overtime, it goes to penalty kicks.
FC Dallas wins the "first leg" in Frisco 3-1 and loses the "second leg" in Seattle 2-0. The Sounders would advance despite being tied 3-3 on aggregate as they lead 1-0 on away goals.
Does that all make sense? Score more goals than the other team over two games, you win. Score the same amount of goals and more goals in the other team's house, you win.
This is it. The playoffs have returned to Toyota Stadium and tonight FC Dallas will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a winner-take-all wild card round matchup. Here are the 10 things to know before heading to Toyota Stadium tonight to scream your brains out:
1. Tonight's match, and our entire playoff run, is Driven by Toyota. They've partnered with Chase to provide everyone who enters Toyota Stadium with a free #RedForGlory rally scarf. Be sure to wave yours proudly at tonight's game!
2. Our honorary scarfer tonight is Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley! He's got a pretty amazing story, and we're super excited to have him. Join us at around 7:30 on the north concourse for the ceremony.
3. If we win tonight's match, we will host Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday night at 8:00PM in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals. Stay tuned for a special ticket offer after tonight's game should we triumph.
4. Bring the kiddos out to tonight's match in their best halloween costumes. Toyota is sponsoring Trunk or Treat on the north concourse. Each of our Toyotas will have some candy in the trunk for the kids. We may even let adults have a piece or two if they ask nicely.
5. FC Dallas has earned the right to host a playoff home game & you've earned the right to cheer the team to victory in such a huge game. Be louuuuuud tonight.
6. While parking is always free for everyone at Toyota Stadium, our Toyota drivers out there can enjoy FREE upgraded parking in the Camry Gold Lot tonight. The Camry Gold Lot is directly NW of the stadium adjacent to the Dr. Pink field.
7. FCD & Vancouver have played three extremely hard-fought games this year with great goals, great saves and some controversy as well. Take a look back at the previous meetings.
8. The weather for tonight's match should be absolutely perfect. Forecasted temperature at kickoff is 70 degrees dropping down to 65 by the end of the match. It's gonna feel like fall.
9. If you can't make it to Toyota Stadium, tonight's match is live on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel 323 with Mark Followill & Kevin Hartman as well as 100.7FM with Steve Davis & 1270AM with Carlos Alvarado & Rafa Calderon.
10. Don't have your tickets yet? Are you crazy?! Beat box office lines & get them here.