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Scratching the Chalkboard: Dallas Survives A Wild One

FCD got it tactically right, but equally unlucky and fortuitous to leave with a point.

MLS: FC Dallas at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After an emotional win on Tuesday to capture the team’s first major trophy in 19 years, FC Dallas traveled to New York in hopes to secure a playoff spot and keep their chase for the Supporter’s Shield alive. Dallas walked away from a wild shootout against a tricky NYCFC side by splitting the points. Dallas may rue the missed opportunities from this one at the end of the season, but tactically, Oscar Pareja got everything right.

Small Field? No Problem

I still don’t understand how Yankee Stadium’s baseball soccer field is legal in this league, but when faced with an unusual problem, Oscar Pareja and his team got everything right to give FCD their best chance to take all the points from this one, first by utilizing the team’s youthful and energetic legs to put pressure on New York’s defense.

This is an absurd 33 defensive actions inside the attacking half. On a smaller field, and with more athletic players, Pareja unleashed a high press that resulted in a very back and forth match. The result of this also meant Mauro Diaz didn’t have to track back as often and was able to drift into spaces while his teammates were defending. It also meant that Diaz’s responsibilities then was to play two-touch soccer, settle-pass (preferably a through ball) to catch NYCFC off guard. It didn’t execute as planned, but the idea was correct.

By pressing, Dallas also forced NYCFC to clear the ball out of the back quicker than they would like. The unsuccessful passes from Josh Saunders, Frederic Brilliant and Jefferson Mena below:

Essentially New York would just punt it up field after being pressed back to a waiting Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman, who’d just head it up to Gruezo and Acosta and the Dallas attack needed just two passes to launch a counter again.

Also to adjust to the smaller field size, Pareja started Mauro Rosales again, letting his natural technical abilities compliment his more youthful teammates. Rosales ended the match with a very tidy passing chart (2 assists, 4 key passes) and was often involved in link up play to build the attack.

Defense Leaking?

FC Dallas has now given up a goal in 10 consecutive games (across all competitions), with their last clean sheet coming on July 31st in a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Dallas has gone 5-3-2 (W-D-L) during that stretch, but their inability to keep opponents out of the net as of late has to be a concern as they enter the final stretch of the season.

Dallas fans may look and wonder “what if” had Michael Barrios finished that open netter or if Tesho’s shot had a kinder bounce of the post, but in truth, Dallas also walked away a little fortuitous with a point as well.

Above is NYCFC’s shot chart, which doesn’t show entirely just how well some of New York’s chances were. Andrea Pirlo should’ve buried his chance in the 28th minute and of course, Steven Mendoza’s 93rd minute miss will haunt him for a few weeks.

Dallas cannot keep giving up chances like those if they hope to keep the opponents off the score sheet. Inserting Victor Ulloa back into the lineup will help, as he’s skilled in keeping the game in front of him. Dallas will need a little more from the defense for the final four games of the regular season, especially next week as they travel to Rio Tinto to face an undefeated at home (at the time of writing) Real Salt Lake.