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Scratching the Chalkboard: Just Bad

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Worst I've seen Dallas play.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Ugly. Uninspired. Pathetic. [Insert own comment]. Have your pick. Any of the previous comments would've have summarized last Saturday's match against the Vancouver Whitecaps really well. I usually dwell on the positives here, even when things are bad, but this last game was a complete waste of two hours. With the playoffs on the line, I expected Dallas to show more fight, more tactical acumen and a little... anything resembling the makings of a professional soccer team that took the field. What we were treated to instead was an embarrassment. Perhaps I'm being too harsh, but here's a sampling of what I saw and how disappointing the loss was.

Passing Skills

More, the lack thereof. Here's what happened in the final third:

Final Third

That's an abysmal 46/89 (52%) passing inside the final third. It's a little difficult to see, but when you can't take care of the ball and connect simple passes in the attacking third, you really shouldn't expect to score much less win a match.


As if the passing in the final third wasn't bad enough, take a look at how many times FC Dallas just hoofed the ball down the field to no one or a white jersey. Not everything in here is a long ball, but it's an overwhelming majority. 73 passes took place in the middle third where the ball was turned over to the other side. Just not good enough.

The worst part is, a good number of these long passes occurred when the Dallas player wasn't under much or any pressure. They had time, they had space, they had their head up and just hit a hopeful ball towards nothing.


The ball is round. The goal is a rectangle. The players make triangles. It's pretty simple, yet Dallas failed to latch onto the last concept on Saturday. Here are some screenshots just to give a small sample of how bad things were.

The Caps Goal:

Hernandez 1

Moises Hernandez just received the pass from Hedges and does what he naturally should do, turn upfield and look to pass to a teammate. Notice something? There's not a single red shirt within reasonable passing distance to advance the ball. To credit, Matt Hedges is doing the right thing by providing a drop and a better passing lane. Hernandez takes a touch to create some more time for his teammates to get open, but this transpires:

Hernandez 2

This is seconds before Moises gets bumped off the ball and starts the counter that led to the Whitecaps' second goal. Notice that not a single Dallas player went into the open space to create a passing lane or a passing option for Hernandez. I couldn't hear, but at this point Matt Hedges should have been yelling for the drop. Instead, Hernandez gets stripped and the rest is history.

This plagued Dallas for the entire game. Here are a few more examples:


Remember triangles? The space in red is where somebody, mostly Victor Ulloa should have moved into. Look at everyone else. Escobar - no passing lane. Texeira - no passing lane. Perez - no passing lane. Hollingshead - maybe, but that's a difficult pass to pick up under that much pressure. Michel is behind Ulloa providing cover, but Perez and Ulloa should have spaced themselves into proper passing lanes (i.e. no one between the teammate with the ball and themselves). Watson gets dispossessed in the next second for yet another Dallas turnover.

Where is Everyone

Triangles people. Where is everyone? Escobar is alone, there are four Whitecaps in the screenshot in defensive positions. Where are the Dallas players?

Here's an example of what proper triangles look like:

Caps Goal 1

Immediately he has three options to pass to. And of course, this was part of the long pass sequence that led to the Caps' first goal.

And then there's this where no one checked to the ball:

To Whom

Remember, Michel is left footed and the angle he is standing over the ball is forcing him to use his weaker foot. Texeira, Perez and Benitez were just standing at the edge of the box, waiting for a cross that never would come. Ulloa didn't go wide to create a passing lane, instead he ran towards Escobar, dragging his defender with him and eventually that defender picked off Michel's pass. This was a prime example of not paying attention to the details (Michel can't swing a pass in from that angle) and just ball watching.

Finally (why are you still reading this depressing piece?!), this screen shot summarizes the whole Dallas attack:

Don't Cross

There are five white jerseys basically inside the penalty area, not including the keeper or the defender out towards Watson. Watson is basically aiming at a 2v5+keeper situation and what does he do? He crosses it anyway. The ball doesn't reach a Dallas player (shocking) and summarizes quite nicely just how out of ideas this team was and how they kept making bad decision, after bad decision after bad decision.

Speaking of bad decisions.... How was this offside???