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Scratching the Chalkboard: FC Dallas’ wasteful offense, but youth show promise

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MLS: Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

It’s nice to be back in the swing of things here at BigDSoccer. We’ve already got coverage from East Stand View, Talking Points and even some notes on Jacori Hayes from Oscar Pareja and we’ll have a few more coming your way before we switch gears and look ahead. I’ll try not to berate some points, but I’ll try to keep things from overlapping too much.

Offense still a question mark

I try not to make a habit of associating a characteristic from one season to another. Yes, there’s some carryover, but often times in MLS, there’s such a high turnover rate that some things cannot be ignored.

Dallas ended 2017 pretty poorly everywhere. The defense looked fairly decent last night, minus some positional mistakes (and there’s no way a team can go a full 90 without a single defensive mistake) and should iron things out once the players get more minutes together as a unit.

The offense though, looked better but incredibly wasteful too.

Just five shots on target

Out of Dallas’ 18 shots, only five managed to be on target. Granted, Hayes was inches from scoring and Mauro Diaz had a couple of looks that a player of his caliber absolutely should’ve buried.

9 shots off target. Seriously??

These are bad. Most notably that strike from Diaz at the top of the penalty area in the 36th minute where he sliced his shot into the corner flag. Given the game situations, Dallas should’ve put at least four of these on target. With the exception of the beauty of the own goal, you can’t score unless you shoot on target.

But here’s where things are also problematic for Dallas.

RSL had 30 clearances

Clearances are a bit of a tricky stat to analyze. One one hand, it’s good the defense made the play, but on the other hand, it also indicates the defense needed to scramble to make a play. In Dallas’ case, the more clearances the opposition has the worse the team is performing on the offensive end.

Dallas completed just one open field cross vs RSL

In 2017, FCD opponents managed 30 or more clearances six times. Dallas only won one of those contests, loss two and drew the remaining three. In this instance, the more clearances the opposing team manages to produce, the sloppier the Dallas offense is.

There was also the problem with Dallas’ “fourth quarter” performance. (There’s probably a witter way to say the final 25 minutes of a match, but I haven’t had enough booze to generate that kind of creativity... yet.)

FCD shot attempts after 75’ minute

Just think of the game state here. You are losing, at home, but only down a goal. You just need one chance to salvage a point, and the best you can muster is four shots that a keeper of Nick Rimando’s caliber could easily handle. Thankfully, Maximiliano Urruti’s moment of magic created the equalizer, but this does not look reflect well on the offensive unit as a whole, even if Diaz was already subbed out. This team has to to do better to generate their chances.

But youth looked promising

Last year, I desperately wanted to see more of Hayes and Reggie Cannon and what they showed vs RSL was exactly what I had hoped to see.

Yes, Cannon made a mistake tracking back on Plata for the opening goal, but people seem to forget the quality of Plata. Because aside from that play, Plata didn’t seem to be able to find his rhythm all game.

Yes, Cannon shouldn’t have given the inside to Plata and instead, should’ve forced Plata wide and trust Jimmy Maurer to be able to make the save. That was a bad read, but to overrun a play like that means 1) You’re ignorant of defensive angles - which Cannon is not. Or 2) You’re confident in you abilities to get the ball back and you’ll aggressively pursue the attacker, even if it means exposing yourself from time to time. I’ll take the latter from a young fullback any day.

But all eyes were on Hayes, who turned in a stellar performance.

Green - completed passes. Red - incomplete passes. Yellow - key passes.
Orange - recoveries. Blue - interceptions. Yellow - blocks.

As fellow writer Jack Rouse pointed out in his Things We Learned piece, the Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo pairing can work in some situations, but it gives you two true defensive midfielders. At home, that may not be the tactical approach you want, but Hayes gives you more balance in the midfield as he links between Gruezo and Diaz.

There’s also this about his game:

Watch Hayes

Did you see it?

In a span of about 10 seconds, Hayes checked his shoulders six times. No, the ball never got to him, but the way he scanned the field to make sure he knew where RSL was setting up around him showed strong signs of maturity and vision.

(In case you’re wondering, Xavi Hernandez is renowned for his ability to check his shoulders constantly during the game.)

Then there was also this beauty of a pass to spring Barrios:

My only complaint is that he put too much air and the pass was a tad bit short, but finding Barrios out wide, mid stride is always a good thing.

Yes, the offense still has some problems to work out but the promise of the youth and homegrowns of this club are signs that the best is yet to come.