FC Dallas rolled out a new formation last night against the Seattle Sounders and while the result was hardly one that left any of the fans with a good taste in their mouth, there were at least some positives to draw from, namely the new formation that caused the Sounders attack to sputter for much of the first half. Our great and merciful managing editor Drew *cough KISS ASS cough* has already touched on it a little, but I'll break it down for you Chalkboard style.
Pros: Defensive Bite
The first 45 minutes was an incredibly predictable affair in terms of the Seattle attack. Push the ball wide, swing in cross. Obafemi Martins is good in the air, but I'd put my money on Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman to beat him to the ball every single time. This progression was dictated by the 4-4-2 with the defensive minded diamond midfield that Oscar Pareja rolled out there. Since there was no space in the middle, the ball had to go wide.
The graphic above shows us Seattle's crossing in the final third, in the first half. If it doesn't look all that impressive to you, it's because it isn't. The stats are 17 unsuccessful crosses versus just 3 successful ones. None of which were a key pass that led to a shot on goal.
Obviously Seattle figured out a better way to get the ball into dangerous spots in the second half, so credit to them for making the right adjustments to get them the three points. But, this is a very useful formation that Papi could deploy a few more times when he feels the team is over matched.
Cons: Attacking... Nibble?
As Drew already pointed out, the passing was atrocious from Dallas for large stretches of the game. Part of it has to do with the formation and the players positioned out there. Once Dallas wins the ball, there aren't many players looking to move forward besides Danny Garcia, Blas Perez and David Texeira and the numbers showed.
Dallas' passing in Defensive Third:
41 successful, 17 unsuccessful
Dallas' passing in Middle Third:
193 successful, 49 unsuccessful
Dallas' passing in Final Third:
31 successful, 46 unsuccessful
This is pretty ugly to look at, but it is to be expected. The combination of Perez and Texeira gave Dallas a lot of defensive pressure and effort, but neither of them a shot creators and are dependent on service. And as good as they are, it's asking too much for them to consistently try to beat multiple defenders. Even that penalty that Perez drew, he was marked by two Sounders.
Not to mention that Dallas only managed 2 shots on target and that includes the penalty, Perez and Texeira only combined for 5 passes (compared to 14 from Martins and Dempsey). This will probably be different with a different pairing up top and with Mauro Diaz, but it's still brutal to think about.
Not Perfect, But Keep It
I wouldn't expect Pareja to use this lineup and formation often throughout this season but it's good to know that this team can pull it off with relative success. I hope he keeps it in his arsenal and I can see Dallas using it in August, when they are protecting a one goal lead with 20 minutes to go. This formation definitely has its place with this team, but probably not for a full 90 minutes.