Saturday’s season-opening victory for FC Dallas, which set a league record for most consecutive season-opening victories with their sixth, was by-in-large as complete of a performance as anyone could expect coming out of preseason with plenty of flux in the starting XI for FCD.
Despite four new starters from last year’s season-opener, Oscar Pareja’s men controlled new-look LA Galaxy for just their sixth win in Los Angeles in 35 tries.
While the Galaxy managed more shots, possession and a higher pass completion rate, FC Dallas controlled a larger portion of the field with a much more spread and evenly-distributed attack.
Kellyn Acosta’s higher position up the field gave the FCD attack an unfamiliar bite that, coupled with a slower Galaxy front, forced the home side to come from the middle and middle alone –– quite contrary to Dallas’ approach.
Obviously if you’re Los Angeles, the last defenders you want to take on are Carlos Gruezo, Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges but that’s exactly what their funneled attack did, thus making it noticeably less threatening, only mustering two shots on goal in ten tries.
More With Less
FC Dallas was heavily out-passed by the Galaxy, but taking into account how those passes were used, FC Dallas had more significant passing overall.
Of their 274 total passes, over 40 percent of them were passes into/in the final third and over 80 percent of them went forward. Obviously this doesn’t completely cancel out LA’s 540 passes, 97 percent more than FC Dallas’ total, but it does point to something we already know –– Pareja’s team doesn’t have to control the game to control the game.
No Mauro, No Sorrow
Finally, many were wondering how FCD’s lively attack would function without main playmaker Mauro Diaz, especially with a switch to the 4-4-2 now that the coveted attacking midfielder role is somewhat in question. Thankfully, those prayers were answered with the realization of Kellyn Acosta’s ability to play higher up than his central midfield counterpart, Gruezo, and become a more effective distributive force than he could’ve been as a purely defensive midfielder.
Not only did Acosta net a goal in his MLS debut in this new role, it was his third in as many matches at that position, coupling in the two recent CCL matches. Combined with Acosta’s individual play and attacking efforts, the entire four-man midfield proved incredibly effective despite a new left winger in Roland Lamah and Acosta adjusting to a new role.
Those two, as well as Michael Barrios and Carlos Gruezo completed 80 percent of their 97 passes and worked especially well with right-side striker Maxi Urruti, who can’t help but come back deep to bring the attack forward.
One note: Roland Lamah might’ve been the most underscored player of the match from Saturday. His combination of strength and pace is going to work really well with a midfield that loves to come up into the attack. It was him to was able to fight off a defender for a 50/50 ball and immediately find Acosta, who then took it the rest of the way for the game-winner.