WHAT WE LEARNED: Three Takeaways from FC Dallas' 1-1 Draw with Real Salt Lake

FRISCO - FC Dallas wrapped up a busy week with a come-from-behind point to open their 2018 season against Real Salt Lake, pushing their home opener unbeaten streak to nine games. Here are three things we learned from the match. 

Creating Looks

The offense didn’t score in the opening match of the year, but it was not for a lack of chances. In the opening half, FCD peppered 11 shots towards Nick Rimando, five of which were on target. What’s more important is that all 11 of those shots came from inside the 18-yard box.

3.3.18 - FCD vs. RSL

2.28.18 - FCD vs. Tauro FC (Leg Two)

2.21.18 - FCD vs. Tauro FC (Leg One)

Through both legs of CCL action and the opener, FCD has taken 49 shots and only 12 of those have come from outside the penalty area - a rate of 24 percent from distance. That’s down from last season when 38 percent of the club’s shots came from distance. In 2017 MLS play, Dallas averaged 14 shots per game and only eclipsed the 18 shot mark six times. Through three games in 2018, they’re over 16 shots on average and they’ve eclipsed 18 shots in each of their last two matches.

While the finishing isn’t there yet, the FCD attack is creating more chances from increasingly dangerous areas. It’s a good sign moving forward.

Hayes the Midfield Link

In just his third MLS start, Oscar Pareja applauded Jacori Hayes’ night in the midfield. Alongside Carlos Gruezo, the second-year player covered lots of ground defensively and racked up 11 recoveries, four interceptions, a block and a tackle. His 17 defensive actions were by far the most of any FCD player (Reto Ziegler was next closest with 10). 

Left: Defensive Actions, Right: Passes and Shots

What was more impressive, though, was his ability to quickly start the play back forward and contribute in the attack with 49 passes and three chances created. That ability to link the offense and the defense is massive without Kellyn Acosta available to help pull those strings and Hayes filled in nicely for the injured Homegrown in his first 90-minute performance in MLS.

Aside from his ball to Maxi Urruti leading to the RSL own goal, this long ball to Michael Barrios was my favorite from him on Saturday:

Growing Pains

While the defensive face held RSL at bay for the majority of the match, the lone goal allowed was a breakdown on a couple fronts.

First, after a few quick changes of possession in the midfield, Dallas gets caught looking as Damir Kreilach beats Gruezo, Hayes and Mauro Diaz all will a single pass to playmaker Albert Rusnak. You can see Maynor Figueroa high up the field and Reto Ziegler on the near side in coverage as well. Rusnak is able to play a ball to Joao Plata as Salt Lake hits on the quick counter attack to the open side of the field.

Homegrown Reggie Cannon showcases his speed to get back into the box nicely, but overruns the play as Plata pulls up inside the 18 and fires a shot past Jimmy Maurer before Matt Hedges can get back on the play as well.

Full credit goes to RSL for their execution in catching Dallas in a momentary breakdown on the opening goal of 2018.