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Talking Points: FC Dallas holds off the Timbers

Urruti scores against former team to draw 2-2

MLS: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas hosted the Portland Timbers in their first meet up this season. This fixture has had its own set of drama in recent years (2015 Western Conference Final, “Tissuegate”) so there is a guarantee that this will be an entertaining game, and they pulled through. Following a 20 minute lightning delay, Dallas and Portland ended up sharing points drawing 2-2.

Defending Set Pieces..?

Fanendo Adi opened the scoring on Saturday thanks to a free kick just outside the 18. But lets take a look at the foul first. Kellyn Acosta got his feet tangled up, and FC Dallas eventually won the advantage. I personally did not think that it was a foul, I was shocked when seeing the replay, then again, this referee had some questionable decisions going both ways.

My question is: How does nobody mark Portland’s biggest attacking threat!? David Guzman sends in a perfectly placed free kick to Adi’s head. Shockingly, neither Hedges or Zimmerman were marking the Nigerian striker which led to Portland taking the early lead. Dallas has a solid track record on attacking set pieces, but still struggles on defending them.

Hopefully Pareja will be looking over the tapes, and may need to adjust to man to man marking instead of zonal defending when it comes to set pieces, because Adi found the gap, and he took it.

Urruti scores his first against his former team

Maximiliano Urruti joined FC Dallas at the start of the 2016 season due to the re-entry draft. Since he has moved to Texas, he has been getting the regular minutes that he has desired, and earned. The one monkey on his back was that he had not scored against his former club, Portland Timbers yet. On Saturday, he finally got rid of that demon, and with a beauty of a solo effort.

The Argentine was able to pull the ball off the Portland defender at the edge of the 18, shift to the right, find a pocket between three defenders and launch a rocket into the upper left corner. This brought Dallas level for the first time on Saturday. I feel like I am constantly praising Urruti in my series, but he has stepped up his game starting out this season. This may be because he has newfound competition in Cristian Colman, but one of the best defending 9’s in the league has impressed massively for Dallas. Whether it is Urruti or Colman (eventually) scoring for Dallas, it benefits Oscar Pareja and the entire team.

Formation shift opened up Dallas

Oscar Pareja opted for a 4-3-3 formation like last week vs Sporting KC with Javier Morales as the primary playmaker. Dallas struggled early on in the game with Portland’s free flowing attack in Adi and Darlington Nagbe. It wasn’t until Javier Morales was subbed off for Michael Barrios and formation shift to a 4-4-2 that Dallas looked more of a threat.

This opened up Kellyn Acosta to play more of a box to box role and become more effective for Dallas. This makes me question why Dallas has been playing with a 4-3-3 instead of the 4-4-2 in the absence of Mauro Diaz where Dallas is getting the best results with a two striker setup.

At the end of the day, FC Dallas are still the only unbeaten team in the league as they head up to Utah to face a struggling Real Salt Lake.