There will be plenty on this site regarding the officiating of Baldomero Toledo, so my focus will be the tactical side of the match and how things played out. Did Toledo’s presence impact the outcome of the game? Possibly. I’ll let my colleagues dive into that one because from my vantage point, even without Toledo’s officiating, FC Dallas didn’t look convincing at all. Yes, that “penalty” sealed Dallas’ fate, but I wasn’t convinced Dallas was going to equalize given how they lined up and approached this one.
The opening 10 minutes played about as anyone expected; Dallas paced themselves for a hot evening, sat deep and opted to pick their chances to launch the counter. My hunch was this was the game plan for the opening 45 and depending how things were going, adjustment will be made for the final 45.
Dallas initiated their textbook counter in the 7th minute which took them all of 15 seconds to go from defending a set piece in their area to the other endline in four passes.
It starts with Roland Lamah gathering Maxi Urruti’s cross and eating up acres of space while Michael Barrios and Mauro Diaz flanked him.
Carlos Gruezo, who quietly trailed behind the front free found himself open and whipped in a decent cross which eventually was cleared out of bounds.
This minute sequence seemed to have alerted the Whitecaps how they needed to adjust their positioning and it also seemed to have given Dallas a false sense of how the game was going to unfold. After this counter, Dallas kept their lines really deep barely pressuring the ball and the Whitecaps responded with keeping their lines high but were never conceded enough space to let Dallas relaunch another counter when FCD regained possession.
The aftermath looked like this for most of the match:
Dallas had regained possession a second earlier, rolled the ball out right to Barrios but look at the numbers for both sides. Vancouver already had 6 behind the ball, Urruti is well marked by just one CB and Diaz already has two midfielders near him.
The ideal would’ve been Urruti already sitting on Tim Parker’s shoulder, Diaz would occupy where Urruti is (between the lines) and either Gruezo or Victor Ulloa would be roughly where Diaz is. But because Dallas sat so deep defensively, they were constantly outnumbered whenever they tried to go towards Ousted’s goal.
Right Change, Bad Decision
I have been unashamed by my affection for Ulloa and what he brings to this team, but sometimes, it’s just not your night. Ulloa was taken off at the half and rightfully so. He was a little slow off his blocks and didn’t close down Bernie Ibini-Isei quick enough on the opening goal. “Didn’t close down [so and so] quick enough” seems to be a theme for Ulloa as of late. It’s hard to fault him entirely because you can tell he doesn’t want to be beaten off the dribble and he had no cover behind him, but at the same time, that’s not a current issue with Kellyn Acosta.
Acosta eventually replaced Ulloa, but Kellyn gave up the penalty early in the second half that eventually dug Dallas in far too deep for them to mount any kind of come back.
No, with how they were playing, Dallas wasn’t going to come back from a two goal deficit even if Gruezo didn’t foolishly throw his elbow. Even before the red card, FCD only managed to put one decent effort on frame, courtesy of a nice turn from Diaz in the 42nd minute.
It’s incredibly rare that Oscar Pareja gets the tactics wrong, but it does happen. As the fan base has grown accustomed to the inexplicable annual blow out loss, Pareja is prone to get one game completely wrong too.