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Scratching the Chalkboard: Get Maxi Shooting Again

A rant on VAR and a call to get Maxi to shoot more

MLS: FC Dallas at Orlando City SC Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the 0-0 draw and other results not going entirely in FC Dallas’ favor, FCD now sit outside in 8th place with three games remaining for their 2017 campaign. This coming Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rapids will be crucial if Dallas hopes to stay above the red line.

#VAR-Out. #PRO-0ut

But before we turn our eyes, let’s talk about the absolute debacle that was the officiating crew yesterday afternoon. If you’ve been reading my stuff, you know I’ve stayed very clear from referee decisions, calls and VAR. Those are not my area of expertise and it’s just now what this piece is about. However, that no call for a handball inside the penalty area in the 74th minute was an absolute disgrace.

If this isn’t a handball, then I don’t know what soccer is anymore

Armando Villareal was the referee and I wondered at the time, “Maybe he didn’t get a good look.” I’ve reffed a few games before and it is a brutally difficult job to do. Here’s a screen shot leading right up to Kellyn Acosta’s shot:

“Referee” Armando Villareal’s vision

Can you spot Villareal? I drew some arrows and circled him since it may be difficult to spot the man in yellow given how crowded he was.

Villareal had a direct line to the play, in fact, you can actually see him crouching down to make sure he can see if there’s a handball or not. The shot was quick and sometimes it’s hard to tell, but any person who understands physics at 5th grade level will know that a ball that strikes an arm/hand will basically “die” in the path and not fly off a body part in the same way it does with a leg or chest.

Villareal either doesn’t understand soccer or saw it and chose not to call it.

But Villareal isn’t isolated in incompetence, I’m not sure which linesman was in Orlando’s half but either Jason White or Corey Parker also had a clear line of sight. Perhaps they didn’t see it completely because another Orlando player was in their way, but again, you can simply apply basic physics with the way the ball just died and fell inside the box to know that it struck a hand/arm.

Assistant referees, what’s the point of having that flag in your hand if you’re not going to use it?

Finally, the implementation of VAR has been inconsistent at best. Sorin Stoica was the Virtual Assistant Referee for this one and he actually gets to review replays. Somehow, he saw that play and decided it wasn’t worth notifying Villareal that he didn’t call a handball.

VAR is not going away and PRO isn’t either. Dallas has to do better and adjust to the new rules and officiating. One instance that comes to mind from last night’s game was in the 18th minute when Tesho Akindele broke in behind the Orlando defense, but was incorrectly flagged for offside. Tesho still struck the ball, but his body language gave indication that he was just shooting it out of frustration and not with any intent of actually scoring.

Why is this important? Under VAR rules, had Tesho scored, it would have been reviewed. Perhaps, given how we saw Stoica doesn’t understand basic soccer rules, it may not have mattered and VAR could’ve still made the incorrect decision. But at the very least, Dallas has to force the issue. So even if the play is flagged offside, the players need to go ahead and put the ball in the back of the net.

Rant over. Back to talking tactics.

What’s up with Maxi?

If it feels like the bow and arrow celebration has been absent in recent weeks, it’s because it’s true. Here’s something alarming from the last 13 games:

Urruti: 1 goal

Colman: 2 goals

Welp.

Urruti brings a lot to this side, especially his defensive work as the first line of defense as a striker.

Urruti’s defensive actions vs ORL

Numbers wise, this is pretty normal, perhaps even a little low for Urruti. What’s problematic is how deep his defensive actions were coming from. Teams are now very much aware of Maxi’s defensive work rate and are moving the ball away from him very quickly, negating his Energizer Bunny commitment to the team. When Urruti can’t cause turnovers deep inside the opposition half, Dallas’ offense tends to suffer a bit.

Maxi’s shot chart vs ORL

Also problematic has been the team’s inability to find Maxi in good spots. Urruti is a high volume shooter, and while he doesn’t need teammates to create space for him, he does need is someone to get him the ball from time to time.

Last year, it was an undeniable fact that this team went where Matt Hedges went. This year, that role was been flipped to Maxi Urruti. When Maxi scores, Dallas is unbeaten (6-0-4). Now, VAR has undone about a dozen goals for Urruti, so it’s unsurprising to see Dallas really struggle during this time frame. However, where Dallas can help themselves is getting Urruti the ball and getting him to shoot more.

Remember, Dallas is unbeaten when Maxi busts out the bow and arrow celebration. But to get that celebration, Dallas desperately needs Urruti to shoot. Here’s a breakdown of those stats:

Games with Urruti scoring at least 1 goal: 10

Games with Urruti scoring no goals: 21

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Games with Urruti scoring 1 goal: 8

Games with Urruti scoring 2 goals: 2

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Here’s the shot output from Urruti during said games.

Shot attempts with 1 goal scored: 4.25

Shot attempts with 2 goals scored: 5.5

Shot attempts with 0 goals scored: 2.5

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The more Maxi shoots, the more he’ll score. The more Maxi scores, the higher the chance Dallas wins.

I think that’s how math works, right?