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Scratching the Chalkboard: Play Fast

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Dallas better off when playing at break-neck speeds

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It was pretty doom and gloom for FC Dallas fans entering the half time break against interstate rivals Houston Dynamo. Dallas was considerably outplayed by the Dynamo, especially in the opening 25-27 minutes, where Houston went all out and put themselves in front, courtesy of a beautiful strike from Alex. Dallas had no answers or rhythm getting forward while Houston’s defense frustrated and kept FCD away from Joe Willis’ goal. But things shifted after some orange slices and possibly some choice words and the stare of death from Papi.

I assume this is how it kind of went down in the locker room.

Snore

Offensively, things were a snore-fest for FC Dallas. I launched this tweet around the 40th minute and as you can see, there was really nothing for the Hoops going forward.

You can credit Houston’s defense for this display as their defense and midfield got back and kept their lines and shape really, really well. There was even moments where they managed to drop 10 and even 11 players behind the ball - basically conceding possession in Dallas’ half before engaging once Dallas crossed the half line.

And when you’re stuck with at least 8 players to weave through, the end result of your shot selection will look very much like this:

The passing in the final third wasn’t any prettier either:

Play to Your Strengths

Michael Barrios is fast, but he’s a different kind of fast than say Mauro Diaz. Yes, Diaz is faster when he’s on the ball than without, whereas Barrios is fastest when chasing a through ball with a defender on his shoulder. Which makes the start of Mauro Rosales a bit of a head scratcher. Rosales is an excellent crosser and dead ball specialist, yet for whatever reason, Diaz took all the free kick duties, thus rendering Rosales’ strengths pretty useless. And since Rosales isn’t fast, FCD was stuck trying to break down Houston’s lines of defense with intricate buildups rather than just outrunning them.

All this changed when Tesho Akindele came on and replaced Rosales, giving the team more speed and a better sense of identity with the option to play direct. Thus we got this beautiful goal, courtesy of Maynor Figueroa playing Route 1:

Then add on to the fact that since Tesho was brought on, Dallas’ passing chart inside the final third also drastically improved.

Thus, Dallas was able to close out the game with this shot chart in the final 35 minutes:

It was Akindele who’s shot drew a handball for a PK that Diaz converted and it was Tesho’s incisive run that led to this ridonkulous finish from Barrios:

Tesho will want more starting minutes with this club, but for now, it seems his greatest strength is delivering 30-40 minutes of high octane offense. If Tesho is willing to sacrifice minutes for the greater good, some silverware may be in store at the end of the season for Dallas.