FRISCO – Last week, after seeing his team shutout for the second consecutive game, FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez expressed his desire to see his team develop “the sense to be free in the attack to take more risk, to get numbers forward and go for it”.
This ambition was manifested in his next starting lineup. Striker Jesus Ferreira moved back into the midfield next to playmaker Paxton Pomykal, with Bryan Acosta—a two-way midfielder—filling in as the defensive anchor. With essentially five attackers in his starting XI, Gonzalez’s message was clear: Go for it.
Y'all gonna be able to handle the heat? @MNUFC 😅— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) August 10, 2019
How we're lining up tonight ⬇️, pres. by @ChickfilA
Lineup Notes: https://t.co/2Si72CXn7L
📻: https://t.co/Np9YZzF4E8 or 1270 AM en Español
💻: https://t.co/fVjd7OShLJ#FCDvMIN | #DTID pic.twitter.com/KOpfUfXLul
The end result was Dallas’ most potent offensive showing since 2017, a barnstorming 5-3 victory over then second-place Minnesota United.
“We wanted to be aggressive, we wanted to get numbers in the box, I felt we did that,” Gonzalez said. “We also conceded more than we would like but it was great to see the boys refuse to lose and keep pushing until the end and win the game.”
Gonzalez’s new-look midfield had the desired effect. FCD managed 11 shots on target, the same amount as its previous three games combined.
“We felt it (the new midfield combination) gave us some good pressure in the midfield and added some more players in the offensive phase of the game in-behind their midfield,” Gonzalez added. “We’ll keep working on that but it’s a good option we now have, it’s a good variation in the midfield and we’ll keep working on how that can help us for the rest of the season.”
Aside from its attacking accomplishments, Dallas also showed grit and determination to battle back from multiple lead-changes. Not only did Minnesota open the scoring in the 11th minute, it also erased Dallas’ lead on two occasions before substitute Brandon Servania grabbed the game-winner in the 85th minute. It marked the first time this season that Dallas earned a victory (or even a point) after conceding the opening goal of the game.
FC Dallas demonstrated the ability to score freely and bounce back from a deficit at exactly the right time. Sitting in 7th place in a competitive Western Conference with nine games remaining, Dallas needs maintain that resilience over this final playoff push.
“It was a whole shift of mindset,” said defender Reggie Cannon, who scored his first goal of the season during the game. “The team really dug down deep and figured out what we need in the final third and we put it away. Obviously, defensively we had a few minor miscommunications but that’s part of the game. I think offensively now that things are clicking, we’re going to be a much stronger team these last nine games of the season.”
But scoring goals is only half of the equation. Dallas had an uncharacteristically shaky defensive performance against Minnesota, giving up a season-high three goals. The obvious next step is to combine its new-found scoring prowess with its typically reliable defense—a task that’s easier said than done.
“I think it’s about finding a balance (between offense and defense) so we can be one of the more dangerous team in the league,” Cannon said. “We can be strong defensively but also be very dominant in the final third. I think it’s going to be very tough to find that balance, but I think this team is shifting in the right direction for these last nine games.”