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Three keys for FC Dallas against the Seattle Sounders

Three Dallas story lines to watch this afternoon

MLS: FC Dallas at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas hosts the Seattle Sounders this weekend for their first meeting of 2017. Both squads are coming in on different paths as Seattle is unbeaten in their last 12, while FC Dallas hasn’t won in eight games.

Grana continues to polarize

Hernan Grana’s poor marking and a whiff of a clearance allowed Atlanta’s first goal last week. From conceding penalties, free kicks in bad positions, losing the ball in his own half, or poor marking on set pieces, he’s probably solely responsible for at least a half dozen goals conceded this season.

But dammit if he isn’t fun to watch when he’s on his game. The week prior to Atlanta he was a joy to behold, working up and down the right side of the pitch and even combining with Michael Barrios for a slick goal.

Grana embodies a love/hate relationship. Seattle lacks a superstar on the left wing that can tear him apart (not that most of his problems aren’t self inflicted anyway), but hopefully that means this week can be one of the love weeks and not the hate weeks.

Jesse needs to stay hot

After falling into a bit of drop in form during the winless streak, Jesse Gonzalez came back in a big way against Atlanta. He denied a pair of one on ones and was instrumental in Dallas not losing worse than 3-0, which now, with Atlanta’s 7-0 dismantling of New England, feels like a slightly more respectable result.

Atlanta’s shots on goal

With Dallas’ defense in shambles, he may be asked for a similar performance this week.

Kellyn returning to form?
I’m probably the biggest Kellyn Acosta critic on this site. I think he lacks an identity as a player. He’ isn’t a box to box midfielder, and he isn’t a destroyer. He named his superstar analog to Roger Bennett of Men in Blazers as Blaise Matuidi, and I just don’t think there’s room for a player like that in this eleven.

Kellyn is prone to getting lost in games, he wonders and never finds the ball at his feet. He might get to dangerous positions, but I’d rather see him working to make himself available to Carlos Gruezo and defenders to take some pressure off of them and allow Dallas to play a more possession based style of soccer. I also feel like his defensive work rate has decreased as he’s been seen as more of an attacking player this season. The number of fouls he’s committed has decreased from 38 to 22 so far this season, which could be a good thing, but it also feels like he’s afraid to make tackles that he used to make. In that same Men in Blazers interview he said something very similar to: I’m not the type of midfielder that’s going to tackle the mess out of anyone. I’m okay with that, but if you aren’t going to be that midfielder can you get more than two assists this season and not go missing against Columbus?

Gruezo’s passing chart against Columbus
Acosta’s passing chart against Columbus

Here we can see that the enforcer Gruezo was more involved in Dallas’ attack than Kellyn. Yes, more of Kellyn’s passes are higher up the field, but Gruezo has him beat in volume, and this is hardly the only time that Kellyn hasn’t gotten involved in a game.

Oh, and I’m still mad that he dove against Colorado.

Concluding that rant, he got more involved against Atlanta.

Hopefully he can build on that against Seattle.