In a span of four days FC Dallas erased
all most of the heartache from the brutal three game win-less streak. After being outscored 8-0 in the process, Dallas has strung together back to back games with a pair of goals a piece, and managed to keep a clean sheet against Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris and Co.
But as we know, road games in this league are particularly brutal. Through 5/15, only one team (NYCFC!) has a positive road record thus far, with 9 of the 20 teams in MLS having yet to secure their first road victory. So as long the Hoops take care of business at home and occasionally take a point or three away from Frisco, things will be fine.
Attack, Attack, Attack!
After a few timid weeks from the front line, Dallas fans finally saw the team's attackers come back to life. Once Mauro Diaz converted that 3rd minute penalty, it seemed as the monkey was off the offense's back and they felt the freedom to roam and run with all the flair and confidence that we've grown accustomed to.
(Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)
Above's graphic highlights the attacking four for FCD; Tesho Akindele, Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios. The key thing to get from this is the frequency of passes that they were attempting. Generally, when Castillo and Diaz get more passes off, the better off the attack flows.
(It's also worth noting that Castillo was an outstanding 23/25 passes with his only misplaced passes were attempts inside the penalty area.)
It should also be noted that Dallas' shot selection has been notably better as of late, especially against the Sounders. Of Dallas' 7 total shots, 6 came from within the penalty area (includes a penalty) and the one shot from outside the box was a free kick. This marked improvement of shot selection shows a maturing side willing to be more patient on the ball to find a better scoring chance. Some of this is a product of not having Maxi Urruti who appears to be given the license to shoot whenever he fancies. In attempting to get the ball into more dangerous positions, this was the end result and the chaos it caused for the Sounders' defense.
(Green - successful tackle. Purple - clearance. Blue - interception. Orange - recovery.)
I removed all defensive actions from Stefan Frei to show just how much work the Dallas offense was making the Sounders field players do. Overall, this was the kind of performance Dallas fans have been accustomed to seeing and are now expecting on a more regular basis.
(Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass.)
(Green - tackle. Orange - recovery. Blue - interception)
Some of you on social media were thoroughly impressed with Homegrown Victor Ulloa's performance on Saturday night, and I'm here to confirm it. Vic went a tidy 57/68 on his passing, throwing in a strong standing tackle to dispossess Clint Dempsey, 4 interceptions and 8 recoveries.
But it wasn't just his tidy passing, quick one-twos and solid defensive play shielding the back four, but we got to see Ulloa's passing range too as he, along with Diaz, paired up to send quick passes through to Tesho, Castillo and Barrios to spring a fast counter. Ulloa's always had this in his arsenal of passes, but it was refreshing to see him get to use it for this match.
Old vs New
If it seemed like Clint Dempsey didn't really threaten the Dallas goal on Saturday night, it's because he didn't. Texas native, Dempsey did manage to get off two shots in his homecoming, but both his shots were well outside the penalty area and were low percentage shot. The front three of Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Herculez Gomez (all current or former USMNTers) only collectively managed to get off 3 shots.
It's interesting, at least to me, of how the Dallas back four lined up against the Seattle front three, given that the Dallas backline featured a former USMNTer in Zach Loyd, a future USMNTer in Walker Zimmerman and an organic movement calling for the inclusion for a future USMNTer in Ryan Hollingshead.
The Dallas defense is starting to find their footing without captain Matt Hedges, thanks to some timely games at home. Now a stern test comes for the Dallas defenders as the club hits the road again for the next two matches.