WHAT WE LEARNED: Three Takeaways from FC Dallas' 1-1 Draw with the Portland Timbers

FRISCO - FC Dallas picked up another point on the season with a 1-1 draw to Portland on Saturday, but a bit of a sour taste is left after taking an early lead and squandering a potential six-point finish to the month of March. At the end of the year, though, every point is crucial.

Here are three things we learned from Saturday's match

1. Hayes Continues to Impress

With every start, Jacori Hayes’ confidence is growing higher and higher - and for good reason. The kid can play.

First, it’s easy to look at his work in creating the lone Dallas goal, maintaining possession of the ball into traffic, finding the lane to cut back and deliver a perfect ball at the feet of Roland Lamah for the shot.

His ability to connect deep in the midfield is crucial though. Of all 13 FCD field players in the match, Hayes’ 91 percent passing accuracy rate was the best. Looking at the chart below, just look at how many of his passes are filtering the ball out to the left flank to start the attack. The bulk of ones that aren’t to the left are turning the ball to the other side of the pitch instead to create a different look. Having someone who can not only do that, but do it very effectively is huge for Dallas.

2. Seeing Red

It's not something we truly learned, but more of an observation about the ebs and flows of soccer. 

In 2017, FCD was only team in MLS not to play with a man advantage until the LA Galaxy saw red with 19 minutes left in the regular season. This season, Dallas has gone up a man twice in three matches: for 53 minutes against Seattle and then for 24 minutes vs. Portland.

The complete 180 in what you might call luck, chance or whatever the term you prefer is interesting. Now, it's a matter of taking advantage of those situations for Dallas whenever they do come. It took 20 minutes playing up a man to score against the Sounders and a 10-man Timbers side held the game at 1-1 for the entirety of their disadvantage. 

3. Questions on the Left

Lamah notched his third goal of the season on Saturday, which is huge for the stat sheet and his ability to finish his chances can’t be denied (three goals on four shots through two matches). What does loom as a longer-term question is the effectiveness FC Dallas has on the left side of the field.

Looking at the first 50 minutes of the match (before Anton Nedyalkov was subbed out), Lamah and Nedyalkov were arguably just as effective on the left as Michael Barrios and Reggie Cannon were on the right.

When you isolate each of the four individually, the bulk of the distribution load is coming from the outside backs on each side of the field. Nothing too different from either side aside from more concentrated volume from Nedyalkov further up the field.

Anton Nedyalkov left, Roland Lamah right

Michael Barrios left, Reggie Cannon right

But after the 50th minute, when Nedyalkov is subbed out and Dallas find themselves in a tie game at home, the left side of the field drops off dramatically, while Barrios makes far more dangerous penetration on the right. See below for the 50th-76th minute, at which point Lamah is subbed out for Santiago Mosquera

Ryan Hollingshead left, Roland Lamah right

Michael Barrios left, Reggie Cannon right

You can see Ryan Hollingshead is still operating at a similar production level to Nedyalkov in the left back role, but Lamah’s productivity drops without Nedyalkov.

Even over the last 15 minutes, plus stoppage time, with Dallas up a man and Mosquera in the game everything comes from the right side of the field: 

Ryan Hollingshead left, Santiago Mosquera right

Michael Barrios left, Reggie Cannon right

Granted it's with much smaller sample sizes, but without Nedyalkov and his combination with Lamah in the game, Dallas' attack down the left dried up despite Hollingshead's best effort to replicate the output from a left back role. Should the Bulgarian miss any time with an apparent back injury, it could be cause for concern for the FCD attack as we've seen it over the last two matches.