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Scratching the Chalkboard: Will teams follow Seattle’s blueprint?

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Why haven’t more teams used Seattle’s tactics to try to beat FCD?

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas walked away from the weekend reclaiming the top spot on the table and have a two point lead over the Colorado Rapids. The three points did not come without a sacrifice as both Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta picked up injuries in the process. We’ll go more and divulge the details here when we get more details, but for now we’ll just dissect the game and give you some of my observations.

Blueprint to beat FCD?

I’m surprised this hasn’t been attempted more frequently than it has this year, but Seattle basically drew up a blueprint to - at the minimum - frustrate Dallas’ offense. Seattle entered this one cautiously with five out of their usual eleven starters missing due to injury and suspension and rightfully played to absorb and counter against Dallas.

Sounders’ first half passing
Sounders’ second half passing

The bunker plan went into full effect once Lodeiro put the Sounders up 1-0 right before the half, as Seattle spent most of the second half putting 11 men behind the ball. You can see a gist of their defensive shape from the screenshot below. Morris is the first “defender” and he’s already dropped off well beyond he halfway line.

The result of such a defensive posture, led Dallas to take shots like this:

FCD shots before the 75th minute mark.

Outside of Urruti’s attempt at goal in the 16th minute, Dallas barely threatened the Seattle goal and were struggling for ideas on how to break down Seattle’s lines. This isn’t the first time an opposition has clearly ceded possession to Dallas and the results have been largely similar. Dallas did end up winning the match, but here’s to hoping that, much like most of the season, nobody paid attention to Seattle’s game plan and everyone just forgets to try this method.

Don’t Write Off Tesho (Yet)

Admittedly, Tesho Akindele did not have his best night. For a player trying to make a claim to be a regular starter, his performance was not good enough to warrant for anyone to think differently. Though it may be premature to write him off completely as a starter for now.

Remember that Tesho’s best position is up top with another strike partner. A formation that Dallas hasn’t used with any regularity at all in 2016. Instead, Tesho has had to make do with being pushed out wide, a position he can play, but doesn’t put him close enough to goal to fully utilize one of his best skill set - finishing.

Tesho’s offensive touches (all passes, no shots)

Tesho’s other strength is running at defenders in open spaces. His freakishly long legs make it tricky for defenders to take the ball off of him on the dribble, and his stride length allows him to effortlessly cover a lot of ground. All of this was negated when Seattle went up by a goal and went into full bunker mode. When teams pack it in, it makes sense that Tesho would have a rough outing and that someone like Mauro Rosales would shine.

Tesho can do better, and I fully expect him to. With the Diaz injury, it’s likely Dallas will go to the 4-4-2 and Tesho will get another chance to prove himself in the coming weeks.