Ok, I’m not eating crow again, but I am delighted to once again have FC Dallas prove me wrong and score more than one goal to pick up the win against Philadelphia. This week the boys head up to New York City to take on the reeling Cityzens.
The last remaining unbeaten team in the league! That’s right, your Hoops are that team. Backed by a solid backline and even more solid, dare I say spectacular, keeper; FC Dallas is sitting at .5 goals conceded per game (hat tip to Jared Tilly). The offense has created loads of chances but not quite as many expected goals off them. Coming up against one of the best teams in the league, those two stats will be tested tremendously.
You don’t need me to tell you that David Villa is, like, the man. He already has two goals and two assists in five games. But while Villa missed a few games due to injury, and has come on as a sub to shake the rust off, the supporting cast around him has really carried the team. New DP signing Jesus Medina has five assists and one goal this season. Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi each have four goals apiece. There have been eight different players to score for NYC. New York is tied for third in the league with16 goals scored this season. With Dallas having only allowed three goals total this season, something’s got to give.
New York will come out in its tried and true 4-3-3. They lead the league in possession, averaging about 58% per game. For comparison sake, FC Dallas averages about 51% possession. New York will try to attack down the wings where they have speed on both flanks. Moralez will send through balls to any of the front three where they can use that speed to pull defenders apart and create space for the other attackers. Moralez plays the Mauro Diaz role in this set-up, and as mentioned above, already has four goals. FC Dallas will have to clog up the game and keep New York from letting their wide men have too much influence on the game.
As we continue to harp on Dallas’ ability to create chances and not score, we should mention that New York has allowed teams to create loads of chances against them. Communication amongst their back line and keeper isn’t great and Dallas should continue to see plenty of opportunities to find the back of the net. In their last game, New York gave up two goals from corners, so set piece chances should be there for Dallas. But here in lies the rub, Dallas creates as many chances as anyone in the league, but can’t finish; New York creates an average number of chances, but convert’s them at a much higher rate. This is easily the best offensive team Dallas has faced up to this point and the contrast in style from our previous opponents may be an issue.
Carlos Gruezo vs. Maxi Moralez – Usually, containing David Villa is job one for any team against NYC, but his slow start to the season has allowed others to become more dangerous. Moralez shares the team lead with four goals from the attacking midfield spot and has added two assists. He has had a much bigger influence this year in the team’s attack than last season and is the key man in unlocking the opposing teams defense. Gruezo will be pivotal in keeping Moralez contained, both in possession and, most importantly, when he is free in space in the final third.
Keys to the Game
1. Defense – Defense wins championships! Ok, sorry, couldn’t help myself. Dallas has been so much better than we all expected on the defensive side of the ball. Bringing in two new signings (three if you count Reggie as “new”) plays a part, but their ability to gel as a unit so quickly has been astonishing. This game will test our defense like none of the games before.
2. Possess or Counter – This decision will be formulated based on our starting lineup, but I’m of the opinion that we should try and stick to our normal possession based game plan this week. It’s a small field up in New York, so the space for Barrios and Lamah to run into isn’t as expansive and neither is stellar in tight situations. This might be a game for Mosquera to start on one of the wings.
3. Finishing the chances – Finally, as we will continue to say, scoring from all the chances we create is a must. New York has one of the best finishers in the game right up front and Villa will punish Dallas if given even the smallest chance. The Hoops have to score more than one, and maybe two, to have a chance for points in this game.
In the end, I think Dallas takes its first loss of the season against a team that was flying high up until last week. New York will want to prove that the Portland thumping was a fluke and will have that home field advantage. I don’t know if it will be a barn burner of a game; I do believe in the Dallas defense, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see two goals get in. Final prediction New York City FC wins 2-1.