FRISCO - FC Dallas wanted three, but will settle for a single point from a 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC as they open up the home stretch of the 2018 regular season.
BATTLE IN THE MIDDLE
FCD dressed the same lineup from a 4-2 win over the Dynamo two weeks ago in Saturday’s draw, but with a much different result. Instead of the four-goal outburst we saw then, Crew SC’s high press in the middle threw Dallas off it’s game especially in the first half. The opening 15 minutes of the match were not pretty if you’re a Dallas fan.
FCD completed passes, first 15 mins
FCD incomplete passes, first 15 mins
As Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo sat deep to provide outlets for the back line, they also left a lot of real estate in the middle that prevented a seamless attack forward. What was left was a lot of long balls over the top, a Hail Mary trying to get anything to work, but also just trying to relieve pressure close to the FCD goal.
Even over the course of the first 70 minutes, Dallas had nothing in the middle of the field.
FCD completed passes, first 70 mins
FCD incomplete passes, first 70 mins
Credit to Columbus for their plan to press and close down defenders early, but Oscar Pareja won’t be happy with a lack of options in the middle - normally the team’s bread and butter.
I made this point on the Toyota Postgame Show, and I’ll make it again here. To me, this was as close to a playoff mentality from both sides as you can get. Neither wanted to overexpose itself by pressing into the attack (and both did a nice job of thwarting anything from the other). Sitting behind the ball and not breaking down was the game plan from both sides, respecting the others’ offensive firepower.
If this performance came on the road in Leg One of a playoff series, I think Dallas would be ecstatic with a similar result. But because it comes at home in mid-September against a non-conference foe, there’s a little to be desired.
I do think, though, it's a valuable experience to have the team go through a game like this and come out with a result. Even more so for me, I think the Dallas defense needed a result like this to get some confidence back after allowing six goals over the span of the previous two games.
We've seen Dallas give up late goals to leave points on the table or lose matches. We've seen mental errors lead to goals and throw off an otherwise good performance for the team (and recently too). But for this group to face the difficulties it did tonight and still hold on for a point is a real positive step in mental fortitude.
You have to of course make the playoffs first, but other results were favorable for that. When FCD makes the postseason, a game like tonight is the blueprint for any road leg along the way.
We’ll have to wait and see just how big of a knock Matt Hedges has. He was a precautionary sub at halftime as Maynor Figueroa came on in his place, and although Figueroa did a nice job closing out the match, if Hedges is out any amount of time it wouldn’t be good.
The Hedges-Reto Ziegler tandem has been so good this season, it’s tough to replicate that this late with anyone else. On the flip side, though, take as long as it takes to get Hedges fully healthy over the next couple weeks. The last thing you want is to rush him back out there and risk something even longer term.