Game six is now in the books and once again, FC Dallas walked away with more points. The team is now riding a six game unbeaten streak to start the season and is currently the only team left in MLS who hasn’t lost. As for the game on Saturday, it was a lot of the same. They gave up very few chances for the Union to score while having a ton of quality opportunities themselves, only to squander most of them. At the of the evening though, FCD was able to squeeze out two goals and ultimately walk away with the victory.
FC Dallas has had a very safe style of play this season. Defensively, they have kept everything in front of them, not allowing teams to have that many quality chances. They usually give up one or two quality chances a game but nothing more than that. Everyone from the keeper, to backline and defensive mids have be playing as one solid unit making sure they aren’t overrun by opposing teams attackers. That game plan has worked perfectly. FCD has only conceded three goals on the year which is significantly less than the rest of the league.
Last year, Dallas conceded 1.41 goals per game. This year, they are at .5 goals per game. That is a huge jump in the right direction for a team that seemed to leak goals during the second half of the 2017 season. I understand it’s a very small sample size, but the front office went out and try to upgrade the backline and as of right now, it’s worked.
It also helps the few times when the defense has had some mental lapses and allowed a quality attempt at goal, Jimmy Mauer is there to help clean up the mess. He has been outstanding this year and is forcing Oscar to make a difficult decision - to keep Jesse Gonzalez on the bench or not. That double save on Saturday night was ridiculous. Hopefully Jimmy is able to keep up this high level of play and continue to pick up clean sheet after clean sheet.
Jacori Hayes has been a man possessed this season. Without a doubt, he has been the team’s MVP through the first six games of the campaign. He is super calm and steady on the ball while also being a heat seeking missile when trying to recover the ball from opposing teams.
Saturday evening, Jacori lunged into a tackle, was definitely late and got himself yellow card in the 13’ or so. That play brought back memories of his start against NYRB last year where he picked up two yellow cards in the first half, both of which looked like this tackle from last weekend. Unlike last year, Hayes was able to settle into the match and didn’t have any issues for the rest of the evening. I think he only picked up one more foul in the last 75 plus minutes or so.
It’s amazing how much Jacori has grown and continues to grow. Even when he has a bad moment, he is able to shake it off, and continue his style of play with no worries of picking up a second yellow or putting his team under added pressure. He has been terrific this year and once again showed why he deserves to be on the field.
In the last two weeks, FC Dallas has had five 1v1’s with the opposing teams keepers and haven’t been able to score on any of them. Against New England, Cristian Colman had two chances and wasn’t able to even put a shot on target due to his first touch. Roland Lamah also had a break away but wasn’t able to find the back of the net with his shot. On Saturday, Santiago Mosquera had an opportunity and couldn’t put his shot on target and Michael Barrios had his shot attempt stopped.
It’s great to see our guys getting looks at goal in high xG opportunities, but at the end of the day, we have to start putting those away. Against tougher competition, we aren’t going to get this many chances and really need to start being more clinical. If it was just Colman who wasn’t finishing these chances, then you could write it off as him just not having that killer instinct, but with four guys having a chance and no one finishing, it is definitely a bit more disheartening.
If one or two of those chances are buried, the team probably goes on to roll in both games. Instead, FC Dallas has to leave the games somewhat late in order to get results out of them. They got all three points in both matches, so they were able to overcome those shortcomings but as the season rolls on, it is something that needs to be fixed. If this team is able to dangerously hit on the counter, then they have a chance to really make some noise this year. If not, they will struggle to win any games convincingly.
Next week FC Dallas travels to NYCFC to play on the Mickey Mouse field. The game will be messy with a lot of scoring chances. Dallas is one of a few teams left who haven’t been involved in a high scoring contest and this game seems like one of those types of matches. Hopefully they are able to adapt to the different style of game and able to walk away with some points.