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Scratching the Chalkboard: Jacori Hayes dazzles, and is the 4-4-2 FCD’s best lineup?

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We pick apart the 4-4-2 and shine the spotlight on Hayes

MLS: FC Dallas at New England Revolution Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

After several weeks of lackluster performances, FC Dallas put together a strong effort and walked away with a hard earned road victory. The win against New England was no small feat, as the Revolution had been unbeaten in Gillette Stadium since July of 2017 and were on a strong start to begin the Brad Friedal era.

Hayes dazzles

Jacori Hayes has been the star of 2018 for FC Dallas. Much like his midfield partner back in 2014, Hayes has been thrown in the starting lineup due to injuries and has not relinquished his chance.

Hayes has been a revelation, taking over for the injured Kellyn Acosta. His pairing with Carlos Gruezo pushed Gruezo higher up the field, but given Hayes’ composure and vision, he might be better suited to push forward than Gruezo - which is what we saw last night against New England.

Statistically, Hayes has been an excellent contributor. 1 goal (a game winner), 1 assist, 88.4% passing accuracy, 1.4 key passes per game, 2.4 interceptions per game and 4.2 tackles per game.

Hayes’ passing chart vs NE. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Offensively, Hayes was clean on the ball and distributed himself and the ball well to his teammates. Of course, his goal was taken superbly and shows a maturing of his ability to read and time his runs into the penalty area.

Hayes’ defensive chart. (Orange - recovery. Green - successful tackle. Blue - interception. Purple - clearance. Red - unsuccessful tackle.)

Defenisvely, Hayes was his usual self, harrying Diego Fagundez as much as possible while freeing Ulloa to mark space and protect Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler. Hayes did miss on five tackles, which was his only major glaring mistake.

At this point, Hayes has been so good that it’s not about what will happen to him when Acosta’s healthy, but rather whether Carlos Gruezo can keep his spot.

Colman’s getting there

The finishing is still lacking, and should have finished at least two of his chances, but the striker is doing the right things: staying high and on the defense’ shoulders and making himself large and available as a target inside the box.

Colman’s passing chart vs NE. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Colman’s ability or rather, his inability to combine and connect his passes were brutal though. However, his work rate was strong and his willingness to move to the sidelines to keep the attack going was helpful in a game like this.

Colman was certainly not without faults though, as his first and finishing touches betrayed him throughout the evening.

Colman’s shot chart. (Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked)

How Colman didn’t bury any of these is a mystery. But, he was a body that was in the box and was willing to muscle himself into areas to get a shot off. This is an element to the offense that Dallas hasn’t had since the days of Blas Perez.

Is the 4-4-2 the way to go?

Maximiliano Urruti is a good striker, but his tendency to drop into the midfield constantly leaves the midfielders without an outlet or someone to push the defense back. Inserting Colman as a striker partner allows both players to do what’s comes naturally to them (Urruti - drop defensively, Colman - confuse defenses with his off-ball movement) without sacrificing too much on either side of the ball.

FCD’s shot chart vs NE. (Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked)

These are generally all high quality shots based on location, with only Roland Lamah and Anton Nedyalkov attempted shots outside the penalty area. This is a bit surprising given that Dallas was without Mauro Diaz for the entire game and were still able to generate high quality chances on the road.

Right now, Dallas plays its best soccer playing fast. “Get the ball, turn and go” kind of soccer. It does leave Diaz out of the lineup for now, but with the team without answers offensively at the moment, best to stick with what’s working and let this team just run the opposition out of the stadium. Diaz can find his way as a sub if the team is losing or tied at home.

Winning on the road is incredibly difficult in this league, so taking points is huge and hopefully will be something that this team be build upon for the next stretch of games.