FRISCO - FC Dallas suffered its first home defeat of 2019 and its first back-to-back loss of the season on Saturday afternoon against the New York Red Bulls, 3-1. There's a lot to break down in this one, but let's take a look at three things we learned on the day.
BACK THE OTHER WAY
There’s a lot to address after a multi-goal defeat, but one thing stuck out to me in Luchi Gonzalez’s postgame press conference that, upon further review, is absolutely right (to no surprise):
“Their two goals in the second half were immediately after we didn’t put away our chance and that’s soccer. If we don’t punish, we can get punished.”
I bring you the 55th minute. Fresh off a corner, Bryan Acosta finds Santiago Mosquera inside the six-yard box with a beautiful cross. An out-stretched Mosquera plants his point-blank header right into the arms of Ryan Meara, where literally any other placement could see a 2-1 FCD lead. Now, yes he was reaching to even connect, but absolutely a chance the Colombian would want a second chance at.
The ball goes to the other end of the field, where four quick throw ins in succession and really no semblance of possession by either team results in a couple passes by the Red Bulls and a ball out for a corner. Off the short corner, Mosquera makes a nice tackle on the edge of the area, but the aftermath falls right to the feet of Michael Murillo who squares a shot, with the help of Sean Nealis’ face, unbeknownst to the rookie, past Jesse Gonzalez.
We move to the 85th minute. Reto Ziegler, as he did several times chasing the game late, puts a long ball over the top in search of Zdenek Ondrasek. The Cobra heads a ball down into the path of Mosquera at the top of the 18, who takes one touch before firing a shot past a defender and off the post (Mosquera would stay down behind the play and minutes later take a tackle on the same leg that saw his afternoon end).
Dallas is forced to recycle the ball off the clearance all the way back to Gonzalez, losses possession in the attacking half and the Red Bulls catch the home side committing numbers in the attack.
If Mosquera (and not a knock on an otherwise strong performance from him) is able to find the netting in either one of those chances, Dallas likely takes at least a point - if not all three - at home and it’s a much different result we’re writing about here.
With Michael Barrios suspended for yellow card accumulation, FC Dallas was left with a big question on the right wing, coupled with an already existing question on the left wing as well. Because John Nelson has been a more-than-capable option at left back, Ryan Hollingshead moved to the right flank, in what seemed coming into the match as a logical option.
Given Pablo Aranguiz’s better performance in the middle to close out the match last week, he maintained that role heading into the Red Bull match after a few less-than-stellar tries on the left wing. But it was his move to the right side in the second half that sparked Dallas’ creativity down that side.
Hollingshead didn’t have a bad match in a relatively unfamiliar role, but his strength to win balls back in that winger spot wasn’t able to be put to best use. The Red Bulls didn’t possess much of the ball in his space for the usual fullback to challenge for. Where the defender struggled was finding the ball deep and creating chances. Full credit to Hollingshead for stepping up to make the move to literally to the opposite corner of where he traditionally plays. It's not something that is easy, and it's a situation I think Dallas hopes they don't have to resort to again because he truly excels in that left back role he's taken charge of in 2019.
Granted, Aranguiz occupied the role late in the match with Dallas pushing hard for a goal, so it’s not completely fair to compare the two, but he was able to get to the end line for crosses with a much higher frequency. It was more the like-for-like replacement for Barrios that Dallas didn’t know they had given his previous run outs on the left. He was immensely better flipped to the other side on Saturday.
I’ll preface this by again saying chasing the game late is a different dynamic than playing a certain way from the start, but Zdenek Ondrasek changed the face of the FC Dallas attack when he came in atop the formation (in-turn moving Aranguiz to the wing as discussed above).
His aerial impact and presence inside the 18 immediately became the target. FCD had several chances either directly from the head of the Cobra or from a ball laid off from targeting him in the area (see the build up to New York’s third goal above).
Conversely, Jesus Ferreira dropped deeper as a false nine (or even a flat-out No. 10) became a catalyst in the Dallas attack, allowing him to use his skills in the build up. Look at each’s chart over the last 25 minutes in their respective roles.
With Dominique Badji leaving the game injured in the first half (the severity of which remains to be seen) and Paxton Pomykal still on the shelf and leaving soon for U-20 World Cup duty, I would love to see how this relationship can grow at some point in the coming weeks.