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What we learned in FC Dallas’ win over Seattle

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Are you really happy with that performance?

MLS: Seattle Sounders at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas beat a depleted and ten-man Seattle Sounders on Sunday. Here are the biggest takeaways.

Offensive chemistry is lacking

Saying that the offense wasn’t working well in a game Dallas won 3-0 sounds a bit silly. But Dallas squandered a handful of counters, missed a few tap-ins, and continued the trend of being sloppy in the final third. As Jason pointed out last week, Dallas haven’t made the most of their chances and haven’t done well to create them.

In the first two games of the season combined, Dallas has completed two open field crosses. Which looks terrible on paper (and on the field), but Dallas will be able to survive (not flourish) because they aren’t heavily dependent upon crosses. Maxi Urruti’s style isn’t to find space in the box, but it is Roland Lamah’s. The biggest problem isn’t that Dallas aren’t completing many crosses, it’s that they’re misplacing too many. If you don’t have a number 9 in the box waiting for the ball, then who are you crossing to? As Dallas finds what works for them this season, I suspect they’ll start to play more centrally as Lamah and Santiago Mosquera, who both love to drift inside, begin to find their feet in this attack.

Other than the occasional magic from Mauro Diaz, Dallas don’t seem to have any inspiration for creating chances. I was impressed with Dallas’ ability to move the ball through Seattle’s midfield, but once they were in the final third, there wasn’t any game plan. Michael Barrios is the worst offender. Far too often he puts his head down and tries to take on a man he shouldn’t, or just doesn’t have the technical ability to pick his pass or control the ball. Because Dallas don’t build slowly and break teams down, they have to be efficient with their passes on counters, and they haven’t been so far.

Dallas had plenty of chances this game on counters, but pulled stuff like this on them:

Urruti knows better, but it wasn’t terribly out of place in this game. It was just another example of Dallas not executing.

Dallas’ inability to create chances has been an issue since Diaz went down with his achilles injury. The front office has continually failed to bring in another player that has the vision and ability to create chances. Until the attack truly begins playing together, brace yourself for more poorly executed counters and purposeless passes.

Give up on the 20-goal-a-season striker

Deep down, every FC Dallas fan believes that this team is one superstar striker away from competing for the cup. The pieces have been in place for a few seasons. Dallas have a fantastic 10 in Diaz, a defensive anchor in Matt Hedges, a stud box to box midfielder in Kellyn Acosta, and a pacey winger to provide service in Barrios. But what’s always been missing is the 20 goal striker. All he needs to do is be clinical in front of goal. With every shanked shot that goes out for a corner, the lusting for this hypothetical player burns hotter. Imagine if Dallas were able to convert their chances into goals at a decent rate instead of hoping that the other team makes a mistake. Or if Dallas could score their first shot on goal instead of always needing four shots before one looks decent. You won’t admit that you think Chicharito would fix everything, but dammit wouldn’t you like to see him in an ugly jersey that looks like the Texas flag.

That’s why expectations were so high for Cristian Colman. He was the promised one. He was the front office spending big money on a striker. He was young, fast, and would make our wildest dreams come true.

Urruti hasn’t impressed in a year and Colman isn’t going to figure it out. The mystical 20 goal striker is not on this roster. It’s time to admit it’s not happening and this team isn’t going to play like they have one. They’re going to be fast and fluid on the counter. Instead of playing a rigid #9 that’s always the highest player on the pitch, Urruti is going to drop deep and try to create. Is it always going to work out? No. But you have to accept that as part of the identity of this team. For every misfire (okay maybe for every three misfires) there’s a beautifully worked goal like this and Dallas doesn’t need a superstar DP striker for that.

Roland <3’s Anton

I’ll be the first to admit I was upset when I saw Mosquera wasn’t starting. While I would still love to see more of Mosquera, Lamah has made a convincing case for solid game time. What was the difference between Lamah’s past games and this one? Anton Nedyalkov.

Nedyalkov and Lamah’s passing charts (green- successful pass, red- unsuccessful pass, yellow- key pass, blue- assist)

Lamah and Nedyalkov worked as a unit along the left side. Notice that Lamah has the passes from the deepest position. They communicated excellently and worked fluidly both offensively and defensively. Nedyalkov’s more attack-minded approach than Figueroa’s allowed Lamah to drift inside, as he likes to do, without sacrificing width on the wing. The combination between Nedyalkov and Lamah/Mosquera could be Dallas’ key to success this season.