FC Dallas started a crucial road stretch extremely flat on the offensive side of things, falling 1-0 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium last Saturday. It appeared Dallas came in with a very tentative approach to save legs and energy for the grueling 5,000 miles of travel that is upcoming for the squad, but sadly that plan netted Dallas zero points when a point was within reach.
I actually got to attend this one in Salt Lake City and had a great chance to sit higher up to get a full view of all 22 players at once. It did not surprise me that Oscar Pareja opted for a bunker and counter approach given the schedule of 3 straight road matches in 8 days. What did surprise me was the lack of dynamism from the front four of Maxi Urruti, Michael Barrios, Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta and their movement. I wish I caught it on video, but for large chunks of the match, as soon as Dallas regained possession and started to counter, the offense just made direct vertical runs towards RSL’s goal. The direct result was this tepid performance from Mauro Diaz:
(Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)
Yes, these are ALL of Diaz’s passes against RSL. When Urruti, Acosta, Barrios, Tesho and Getterson make their runs directly vertical and straight into the RSL defense, it doesn’t give Diaz many passing lanes or options. This isn’t to say Diaz’s passing skills were up to par, but given the lack of options in front of him, it’s hard to fully fault him here.
In fact, the entire squad didn’t deliver much going forward. Netting this kind of passing chart:
Again, this is the entire 90 minutes. This is normally what we see out of FCD in 45 minutes of action, but in a full match, Dallas managed to complete a measly 18 passes.
This is rare but I’m not entirely sure why Oscar Pareja opted for Maynor Figueroa and Aubrey David in this one. Neither of which provide much width in the attack.
Perhaps the goal was to always go for the draw, but Figueroa and David stayed back for most of the evening and didn’t help on the counter when an overlapping opportunity opened up. Pareja was possibly trying to manage minutes, but from this singular game perspective alone, Ryan Hollingshead at fullback would have been beneficial in creating more offensive options going forward.