We’re at Week 5, and a showdown with Colorado looms. Here is the match preview to get you ready for the game.
Colorado is coming off a bye week just like Dallas. Their last game, they won big with a 3-0 score against Philadelphia. They have a new coach, a new formation, and new lease on life. And for the 3rd straight season, they have started 1-1-1. Soooo, nothing has changed really.
In truth, a lot has changed for Colorado this season. New coach Anthony Hudson has implemented a 3-5-2 system that has seemingly solidified the defense while kicking the offense to a new plane. Six goals in 3 games is not a mind-blowing number, especially when 3 came in 1 game; but Colorado was dead last in goals last season at 31. Even if they only end up mid-pack in the league with around 45-50 goals, that is a huge improvement on previous seasons.
Statistically speaking, Colorado has improved. In reality, it’s a bit too early to tell. Sure, Dominique Badji is tied for second in the league with four goals, but a hat-trick in one game kind of skews the numbers. Yes, they have scored and improved in all three games so far, scoring one, two, and three in sequence per-game. But one against New England, two against Sporting KC, and three against Philadelphia doesn’t feel quite as impressive as it should. Then again, neither does FC Dallas’ goal record either. Does a draw against Salt Lake at the death sound better than a loss to New England? Sure. Is beating a 10-man Seattle 3-0 better than beating Philadelphia 3-0? Maybe. Draw to Portland better than a draw to Sporting KC? Kind of feels the same, right?
New Formation for Colorado
Colorado’s 3-5-2 is more of a 3-6-1. Joe Mason floats back toward the midfield while Johan Blomberg, Jack Price, and Enzo Martinez mix and match in attack. Dallas has one of the highest possession rates in the league this season and Colorado will be comfortable sitting back waiting to counter. When they do have possession, they will generally attack down the right side, through Blomberg and Mason and out to Serna on the wing. In using the wingbacks, Colorado really emphasizes width and pulling the opposing team apart.
Dallas likes playing wide too, so the stretching from Colorado will have to come vertically. When Dallas loses possession, it will be imperative for our full backs to not get caught too far upfield. The good news here is that we should have plenty of possession and have it in the middle of the field. I’m curious if we will see Dallas lineup in a 3-5-2 as well. We know Oscar was experimenting with it during the off season. Now seems like a game to test it out. Letting Roland Lamah or Santiago Mosquera operate in the middle with Mauro Diaz would keep our best possession players in the middle where Colorado is still a bit soft, and we could matchup quite easily on both wings.
Matt Hedges vs Badji – Badji is breaking out as the goal scorer for this Colorado team. Some people point to Colorado’s bringing in three players at his position this offseason, a possible warning sign. Some say it’s the new and improved offensive system around him. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. Either way, Hedges is going to have to command the box, both in the air and on through balls. When a player is as hot as Badji is right now, he can steal a game.
Keys to the Game
1. Tactical Discipline – MLS has gotten better at diversifying their tactics and formations over the past few years, but most teams still run a variation of the 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2. The unique setup of a 3-5-2/5-3-2 will be an adjustment Dallas needs to quickly adapt to. All the time spent working on the setup during the offseason should pay off in this game.
2. New Scorers – Did you know only two people have scored for FC Dallas this season – Lamah and Maxi Urruti. That needs to change soon, and I think this week we see Diaz or Mosquera open their accounts for the season.
3. No Injuries – Dallas has been lucky to have bye weeks after their first few games to allow their plethora of injuries to have minimal impact. But starting this week, Dallas will have 11 straight weeks of games. Getting through games without injuries will be important as we sprint toward summer games of 90+ degree heat and needing to rotate through (hopefully) a good stretch of league games.
On balance, this Dallas team is more talented than Colorado. Dallas has the better playmakers and a system of play that works well for them. While the Rapids new changes have brought about good results, Dallas will be their biggest test yet. Colorado is allowing teams to play through the middle and hold lots of possession. That’s a dangerous game against Mauro and company. Dallas can’t dismiss Dominque Dadji, but the defense is looking more comfortable together and should be able to control the terms of how the Colorado offense flows.
Final call – Dallas picks up three more points in a 2-0 win.