But the last few weeks have been a struggle on the field and the attack has some how grown cold with one goal in their last three games. So for our Quick Burns discussion this week, our staff looks at what it will take to get the offense back on track.
Jason Poon - Patience
Nothing is really off at the moment (besides actually scoring - something that’s largely out of their control). In the last three halves of soccer, Dallas has put up 39 shot attempts with 16 of those on target. I’d be much more worried if they weren’t creating chances. Chances are happening. The ball will find the back of the net. Keep calm and carry on.
Scott Hiney - Confidence
This isn’t even necessarily descriptive of the team. It’s possible FCD knows just how offensively dangerous they are, it’s just about missed chances not being converted at the normal rate. But, it’s important that if there is any lost confidence, these players remember exactly what they’re capable of. This squad is 8-0-1 when scoring at least two goals, so it’s not really about being unable to generate offense, just doing so consistently. Pareja’s men followed three straight 2+ goal performances with three straight matches in which only one total goal was scored. The records in those runs? 3-0-0, then 0-2-1.
Simply put: the ship doesn’t need to be repaired, just steadied.
Jeff Loftin - Plan B
This team has some flexibility, which is great, but they have no true Plan B. Papi did throw Walker Zimmerman up top for about five whole minutes at the end of the Rapids game, but I wouldn’t even constitute that as a Plan B, that was a desperation move. A true secondary plan involves moving players dynamically and tactically to change things up, not sliding one player forward and losing a central defender when the other team is not even bothering to really attack. I sincerely trust our manager but would really like to see the team shift plans when things aren’t going their way and I mean truly shift things around to see something other than what we have seen this year. Without a secondary option tactically, we will see more of these types of games from FCD and not less because teams are starting to come to terms with how to slow down the team. Likely Carlos Gruezo will be back in the lineup and things will get some form of normalcy, but if we cannot score against the likes of Colorado, struggle against the Union, and get smashed by the Whitecaps then we should be concerned. Let us not forget the struggle against SKC in the USOC that resulted in a 3-0 loss. Perhaps the loss of the opportunity to win the treble has played a part, who knows but let’s hope we get a Plan B up and going sooner rather than later.
El Chico Carmona - Unpredictability
The FCD attack has become too predictable, relying far too much on attacks from the flanks. FCD was counting on the addition of Coleman to add a more centralized threat, which has not materialized. FCD was also expecting the return of Mauro Diaz and an increased attacking role for Kellyn Acosta, to help in the center. Well, it's clear that Diaz is far from 100% back, and Acosta's form has tailed off. Also, set pieces used to be a strength of this team once upon a time, but inconsistent service from the set piece takers, has made it almost nonexistent.
The good news, is that the answers are there for FCD, on the roster. Diaz should continue to improve, maybe not to 100%, but better than he has shown. Cristian Coleman still has time to find his finishing touch, and Acosta can still regain his form.
Also look for the new addition of Cariaco Gonzalez, to possibly help on set pieces, as he handled all corners and set pieces on his team, and is good with either foot. Gonzalez may also help in adding a little further diversity to the attack off the bench, as he is a player capable of breaking down defenses with his combination of speed and heavy traffic dribbling ability.
Etan Cohn - Offensive Disconnect
The pieces to the FC Dallas attack have not gelled together yet, and a lot of rotation of players and formations this season has not helped. Some players do work well together, but others have not, and overall, the entire attack is not often on the same page. An example is Hernan Grana and Michael Barrios, who work well together to get the ball up the right side and play a cross in, but their crosses rarely find the runs of forwards in the box, sometimes because the forwards don’t make dangerous runs, and other times because they just simply aren’t on the same page. When FCD goes to a 4-4-2 with Maxi Urruti and Tesho Akindele up top, they are both good at pressuring backlines, but other teams are finding ways around the pressure, and when FCD wins the ball, they hang back into a shell, and neither Urruti nor Akindele are the kind of forward that can break that shell, although Urruti has been stepping up from time to time in that way this season. When Akindele is deployed on the wing though, he likes to drift a little inside, and FCD’s attack works better with more width.
Formation changes have been an issue as well. FC Dallas likes to use two holding midfielders in both of the formations being used this year. Acosta has been excellent at helping the attack as well as the defense, but Victor Ulloa and Gruezo together don’t do the offense too many favors. They are both great players, but together they don’t provide much to a struggling offense.
A partnership I would like to see develop is between Diaz and Colman. Their styles of play seem to fit each other perfectly, yet they have rarely been on the field at the same time because Urruti needs to stay on the field as much as possible, and with FC Dallas’ wealth of holding midfielders, Pareja likes to keep two of them on the field. An experimental 4-1-2-1-2 or 3-5-2 would be fun, although I know I just said changing formations a lot could be hurting this team...