FRISCO - FC Dallas managed a point at home, but they left disappointed on Saturday evening after a scoreless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes. Let's dive into how Luchi Gonzalez's game plan worked to start, what started to change and how Dallas held on as the Quakes pushed for the result in the dying minutes.
COMPACT AT THE BACK
During the opening half - and especially the opening 10 minutes - Dallas was able to implement the match as they wanted, winning balls back from the midfield trio of Bryan Acosta, Edwin Cerrillo and Carlos Gruezo, while staying compact defensively to not allow chances any quality chances from San Jose. As a result, the visitors were left sending long balls up the field with a diminishing return.
San Jose successful passes, first half
San Jose unsuccessful passes, first half
Offensively, Dallas utilized its own fluidity against the ever-fluid Quakes formation to create its own version of chaos. Ryan Hollingshead was tucking in centrally behind Michael Barrios, who was flipped to the left wing against Tommy Thompson, with Paxton Pomykal operating on the right. Bryan Acosta played in his most advanced role to date with some success.
FCD passing and shots, opening 10 mins
As the half went along, though, Acosta was increasingly reliant on help to combine in the middle, rather than a single, dominant player pulling the strings. When he did so, it started to unravel the attacking shape for Dallas.
Barrios and Jesus Ferreira began dropping deeper to create in the middle, pulling each from their main roles further up the field. In turn, the onus fell to Hollingshead, Pomykal and Reggie Cannon out wide. As they found great 1v1 opportunities, there wasn’t a constant presence inside the 18 to convert. Playing with the three central midfielders in Gruezo, Cerrillo and Acosta saw FCD prevent chances, but struggle with its own creative spark.
Barrios and Ferreira touches, first half
SECOND-HALF CHESS MATCH
Over the last few weeks, the Quakes have continued to funnel the bulk of their attack through the resurgent veteran Shea Salinas on the left wing, and Saturday was no different. Nearly 45 percent of the San Jose attack originated down the left side of the field with Salinas and Nick Lima receiving the lion’s share of work.
San Jose passes and shots, full 90 mins
As Dallas continued to stifle the Quakes’ option there with Cannon, Matt Hedges and Cerrillo taking the brunt of the defensive work, the visitors used Dallas’ forced substitution of Pomykal at half time, and the subsequent use of Dominique Badji, Santiago Mosquera and Pablo Aranguiz at left wing, to funnel options instead through Cristian Espinoza in the second frame.
Of the Argentine’s game-high eight open play crosses, most came in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, or from the 80th minute onward. That first stretch saw Badji playing out on the wing, then Mosquera took over the left side as he came on in the 64th minute, and eventually Aranguiz in the 78th minute as Mosquera moved more interior late.
FCD passing and shots, 46'-64'
SJ passing and shots, 46'-64'
From minutes 46-64, Dallas struggled to for answers in the left side of San Jose’s attack and had almost no pressure offensively. Luchi Gonzalez brought on Mosquera, moved Badji up top and Jesus Ferreira to an attacking midfield role, allowing Gruezo and Cerrillo to focus defensively as dual No. 6s in a traditional 4-2-3-1 shape. Through it, FCD got their best attacking presence of the second half and were able to prevent any real chances from San Jose.
FCD passing and shots, 65'-80'
SJ passing and shots, 65'-80'
Matias Almeyda countered by adding Judson to begin to shore things up in the middle, to which FCD responded with another attacking piece in Aranguiz. But the switch, coupled with Chris Wondolowski and Vako coming in over the final 10 minutes as the visitors went for broke and the full points, left Dallas vulnerable defensively and holding on for the draw late.
FCD passing and shots, 81' onward
SJ passing and shots, 81' onward
WHO STEPS UP?
All that said, the true question for FCD stems around a single point that, sooner or later has to be answered: Who can fill in for Paxton Pomykal in the attacking midfield, a place he’s shined through the opening two months?
The plan to move him out to the wing in favor of winning more duels in the middle showed some promise, but once Dallas had to start moving things around up front as the Homegrown left the match with a hamstring injury, the game started to shift. Whether it’s because of injury in the coming weeks or a slightly prolonged question that comes to fruition as he, in all likelihood, heads to the U-20 World Cup, someone has to take ownership of that role.
Is it Pablo Aranguiz? Santiago Mosquera? A young Thomas Roberts? Or could someone else emerge?
For me, it’s perhaps the biggest storyline as Dallas enters the early summer months.