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Quick Burns: What areas do FC Dallas still need improvement on this season?

Even with a small sample size, here is what worries our staff the most so far this season.

MLS: FC Dallas at Los Angeles Galaxy Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It may be early but there is always time for FC Dallas to improve certain areas of their game. After two Champions League matches and the season opener at LA, we have a decent enough sample size from the club to know what is working and what still needs improving.

Our staff offers up the one thing that worries them that hasn’t been improved just yet.


Jason Poon - Chance Creation

Repeat after me: Never judge or draw conclusions based on one road game. That being said, the exercise here is to make observations based on what we have presented before us. For me, Dallas’ chance creation was particularly on the low end - however, that’s also to be expected given the team’s approach to LAG was to bunker and counter.

But Dallas’ xG from that match (according America Soccer Analysis) was a pretty paltry 0.58, which isn’t too much of a surprise when you see the table below.

Quite simple, it’s a lot harder to score when most of your shots are coming from outside the penalty area. This should change during home matches and over the course of the season.... hopefully.

Nathan Hill - Teamwork

The season is upon us, and while I liked what I saw against LA, FC Dallas did not exactly look as fluid as we might have wanted. Over these next couple of weeks, it’s vital that this team builds more camaraderie together, on and off the field. Roland Lamah had a pretty decent game, but you could tell that he was still figuring out when to combine and when to try to get forward. Michael Barrios was kind of quiet. Grana has looked delightful but also a bit clumsy.

While it is too early to tell, I also think other results from across the league indicate that the West is going to be tooth and claw. The slightest edge is going to make a lot of difference. Can FC Dallas unlock some of that spark through some extra team building? How can you help a bunch of guys who have been together for a short period of time click? Let’s trust Pareja has something in mind.

El Chico Carmona - Late Game Communication

With three new starters on the field, FC Dallas has been fortunate to only allow three goals in three games. The team has been mostly successful in getting the whole team on the same page, for large stretches of the game, particularly in the first half. FCD has not allowed a single goal in the first half. The second half has been a different story.

Two things have really affected the teams late game cohesiveness:

  1. Reserves playing out of position. Atiba Harris has been played at CB, and Guillen has been asked to play LB. Both are not the players strongest positions. While both have been solid, there's been several scary moments between them and Seitz.
  2. Formation changes have occurred in all 3 games so far, with all occurring past the 60th minute mark. Forcing not just the subs to play out of position, but also some of the starters to shift their position and responsibilities. Not surprisingly, there have been some pretty hairy moments as the games have neared their conclusions.

These are problems that can be fixed over time, but with the CCL Semifinals fast approaching, time is a luxury that FC Dallas does not have.

Scott Hiney - Switching the Field

This is pretty specific, and probably picky, but I do think the team could start to favor a specific side of the field too much during any portion of the game, which would make FCD much easier to defend. This likely comes, in large part, from Hernan Grana’s crossing ability on the right side and the fact that the Michael Barrios-Maxi Urruti connection is the longest-running combination between attacking players, so naturally the team looks to attack from that angle.

That being said, Roland Lamah still got plenty of play on the left side, I just think its important for the team to continually mix up its attacking look in order to keep defenses on their toes –– especially when it comes time to face a team with quicker wings (almost any other team, really). This can probably just be chalked up to a developing team chemistry, but its something to keep an eye on nonetheless.

Edin Halilovic - Creating quicker, more effective wide overload situations

We know this team has the talent on the flanks with players like Barrios, Lamah, Hollingshead, Figueroa, Chala, Atiba, Grana, and Cannon available, but making the most out of it hasn’t always been as easy in the post-Fabian Castillo era. When you have Mauro Diaz pulling the strings from behind and knowing you can trust him to pick you out from any position, life as an attacking player is a lot more simple in this team but with the Argentine being out for a while and Pareja clearly opting to make 4-4-2 the primary formation in his absence, it places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of those on the flanks to raise their game and produce the offensive goods while Diaz slowly recuperates.

While the opportunities for through balls combining with inside runs from the wingers will be limited without the presence of a #10 in the lineup, this team has the personnel and the profiles to create attacking solutions through a different variant. There’s different qualities and characteristics that come with different potential wing pairings, but the key to get the best out of them is to create more overloads on the flanks and establish numerical superiority against the opposing fullbacks. With FCD’s primary approach being a counter attacking style, it makes sense to take this route by exploiting the spaces that the opposition leave behind, particularly out wide whenever the fullbacks overlap, and creating more opportunities through this avenue, which we have not seen the team do enough of since Castillo left to Turkey.

Utilizing the wide players and creating havoc for the opposition down the flanks doesn’t have to be an individual effort as it’s been in the past here, but a collective effort with players joining and moving closer together towards a specific area to create overloads can be just as if not more effective than just giving Barrios or Lamah the ball and hoping for them to do their thing and expect it to work every time. If there’s one thing that Dallas can and probably need to improve upon tactically, it’s the way they use and manage the offensive potential of the wide players, against both attack and defensive minded opponents.

Etan Cohn - Defending Set Pieces/Crosses

This is definitely a huge weak point. Against LA, two of their most threatening opportunities were when Jones was let free on a corner kick, and when a cross was let through for Ariel Lassiter, who missed a sitter. Set pieces have been an issue since last season, and the Arabe Unido second leg and game against LA have shown proof that set piece issues haven't been sorted out yet. Open play crosses are an issue as well. Obviously no attacking players that are good in the air such as Urruti and Colmán can help out in open play. That is why I prefer Atiba Harris over Maynor Figueroa. While Atiba does have bad giveaways from time to time, there is little doubt that he is better in the air than Figueroa. FC Dallas' weakness could get even worse with international call ups.