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What we learned against Montreal Impact: Are Dallas at their best?

Dallas have looked impressive, but how can they do better?

MLS: Montreal Impact at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas continued their excellent form by picking up another three points at home. This game brought some surprises like a VAR decision in Dallas’ favor.

Creating chances, but not finishing them

Dallas have struggled to create opportunities against teams that pack the back against them. A home game against the struggling Impact that were sure to play for a draw, wasn’t the best match up on paper. Thankfully, an early own goal forced Montreal to attack which gave Dallas’ attack more room to operate.

Last week Jason wrote that “Dallas need to play fast” and I couldn’t agree more. Dallas have a talented front three of Urruti, Lamah, and Barrios that can do damage on counters. But when teams park the bus, there are no counters. Dallas has struggled with breaking down teams’ bunkers this year, so what made this game different? The early goal definitely helped, as did Montreal’s poor defending, but Dallas also made the most (at least in the build up play) of their counter attacking opportunities.

To execute a counter successfully, the ball has to move from back to front quickly. If a player holds up the ball too long, misplays a pass, or loses possession the counter is over. Dallas had been struggling with those things so far this year. This game, they were able to generate opportunities on the counter, but the reason that the score was only 2-0 is because finishing opportunities on a counter is a whole different story that Dallas hasn’t seemed to have cracked yet.

A game that you win by two goals and post 16 shots isn’t a bad one for your attack. I loved seeing the team look dangerous and create opportunities, but the inability to finish is still worrisome. It feels like if Dallas put away 10% more of their goal scoring opportunities they would easily be favorites to win the Cup.

Where is Kellyn?

Last season, for a bit, we were fortunate to experience a different kind of Kellyn Acosta. But it looks more like #YearoftheKellyn Kellyn was more of a fluke than an indicator of things to come. What made Kellyn special last year was his ability to carry the midfield going forward. While Mauro Diaz was out, Dallas needed creativity in the midfield and there was no one but Kellyn to provide it. Now, with Diaz back, Kellyn has a more conservative job. Maybe it’s not fair to compare this year’s Kellyn to last year’s Kellyn because they had different roles, but Kellyn this season has not shown the confidence, flair, or creativity that last year’s did. He isn’t really even involved in the attack.

Kellyn isn’t really a hard-nosed defender the way Carlos Gruezo is, so when he sits deep as a defensive midfielder, what is he really doing? Yes he recycles possession like Ulloa does and moves the ball around the pitch some, but if he isn’t being creative and he’s being an Ulloa level passer, wouldn’t you rather see Jacori Hayes? He brings more energy and creativity to the midfield right now as well as better defensive effort.

It feels like the front office are just putting Kellyn on display right now so they can sell him when the window opens in the summer. I understand why they’re doing it, but it’s hard for me to be convinced that he’s the best thing for Dallas’ midfield right now.

Mosquera, Colman, and Nedyalkov

Injuries are beginning to bite into Dallas’ valuable depth this season. Especially the attackers after Santiago Mosquera bowed out of Saturday’s game with a hamstring problem. So far, the reserves and Pareja, by creatively changing tactics, have been up to the task of filling in this year, but I’m worried that good performances out of the likes of Ryan Hollingshead and the subs may not be sustainable. Maybe we’ll see some game time for Ema Twumasi, but as well as Dallas are attacking, I’m not dying to see the front three rotated.