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What we learned about FC Dallas from the 1-1 draw against Colorado

How will what we saw last night and Kellyn’s return shake up the rest of Dallas’ season?

MLS: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Writing this article would have been much easier if Dallas had just lost 1-0. Instead, Colman’s late equalizer shows “scrap” and that “this team has some fight in it.” I’m sorry but that’s not good enough for me. Last night was a home game against Colorado, and FCD had a bye-week to prepare. There is no excuse for this result and there is no excuse for the product the team put out on the field.

There is still no attacking identity

Why did Dallas attempt 20 crosses if they don’t have a number 9 that stands in the box? The only player in the starting 11 that could finish a cross is Roland Lamah. Making crossing your main method of scoring a goal when your left winger is the only threat to score them makes me start to wonder if Oscar Pareja is the problem. Relying on Mauro Diaz to pick apart the defense isn’t a reliable strategy anymore. Teams close him down and hack at him because there is no one else on the team that can break down a defense. When Santiago Mosquera came on he attempted dangerous through balls and showed that he is an explosive dribbler, but many of his passes weren’t weighted right and he failed to convert his dribbles into opportunities.

I’m tired of watching a team that is uninspired and clueless in attack. A home game against Colorado should never be as mind-numbingly boring as last night’s game was. Dallas has to find a way to create consistent opportunities to score that build around the strengths on their roster.

Dallas are standing at a crossroads. They can choose to continue starting the established 11. Which is fair, despite how bad Dallas look, they are undefeated. Or they can begin taking chances to create a more competitive team in the future. Yes, playing the kids is part of that. Yes, Acosta returning will help. But having a more coherent attacking plan would help a lot too. If you want to cross the ball, start Cristian Colman. If you need someone to break down the defense, start Mosquera. Giving these players minutes to see how they fit into the team needs to be done soon before Dallas’ luck runs out.

What does Carlos Gruezo do anymore?

Early last year I would have told you that Gruezo is one of Dallas’ most valuable players. While he doesn’t offer much going forward, he is a terror to opposing 10s and does the dirty work that needs to be done in the midfield. Since his integration into the team, he seems to be focusing less on his defensive duties and more on going forward. When he joined Dallas he was comically bad going forward, but one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS. Now, he’s not much better at passing and has significantly regressed defensively.

Dallas’ defensive midfield pairing has always been built around the idea that one of them needs to be a dynamic box to box midfielder (an 8) and the other sits deep and shields the backline (a 6). Jacori Hayes has shown the ability to do both.

Jacori Hayes’ defensive actions against Colorado (tackles- green, tackles lost- red, defensive blocks- yellow, interceptions- blue, clearances- purple, recoveries- orange)
Carlos Gruezo’s defensive actions against Colorado (tackles- green, tackles lost- red, defensive blocks- yellow, interceptions- blue, clearances- purple, recoveries- orange)

If Jacori Hayes is a better passer than Gruezo and contributes more defensively, then no longer do we need to be asking if Kellyn Acosta starts over Jacori, but if Acosta starts over Gruezo. It would be risky. Both players could be caught out of position and Jacori would have to defer to Kellyn when it comes to attacking responsibilities, but I see it as a gamble worth taking. It would fill Dallas’ midfield with energy and technical ability and may fix the lack of creativity that this team suffers from.

Dear Jimmy Maurer, just punt it

There were several times last night that Maurer tried to roll the ball to a defender so that Dallas could build from the back. Most of the time it didn’t work. Dallas would lose possession in their own half and hand Colorado a dangerous counter. I appreciate the initiative to try to get an attacking going, Jimmy, I really do, but this team is not there yet. We played some of the night with Matt Hedges at right back where he did his best impression of a deer on meth. This is not a team with the composure or technical ability to dominate a game by creating chances out of the back.

Unsuccessful passes by Dallas’ back four in their own half

Dallas lost the ball in some very dangerous places and that cannot happen against better teams. Hopefully when Kellyn returns he can drop deep and carry the ball up field so we see less red on this chart next week.