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Scratching the Chalkboard: Swapping Barrios and Urruti Key for FC Dallas

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Pareja made a critical adjustment that helped FCD take all three points vs SKC

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

FC Dallas pulled off the improbable road win against Sporting Kansas City last night, courtesy of a hat trick from Michael Barrios. Barrios hadn’t scored in 10 months, but delivered the goods when this team needed it the most.

Barrios. Barrios. BARRIOS!

Big credit to Oscar Pareja for quickly identifying a weakness in the Kansas City defense by switching Barrios to the lone striker position early on in the match and reaping the rewards.

Barrio’s shot and passing chart. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Barrios actually had a relatively simple job to do: Sit on Ike Opara’s shoulders and get behind the defense. Barrios was free of any defensive responsibility for the evening and any positional awareness or shape. He just had to hang around Opara like a pesky gnat and just go full speed at him.

The results kind of speak for themselves: 3 shots, 3 goals. 3 points.

Maxi the False #10?

Maximiliano Urruti has always been a runner. Doesn’t matter where the ball is, Maxi will want to get near it and be around the action. Sometimes this is a good thing, like when your midfield is stretched and you need an extra player to cover, but its also a double edged sword as Urruti can also run himself out of position and leave the team with no outlet option up front.

Maxi’s willingness to put in the dirty work, even as a striker has been lauded around these parts and Pareja dropping him into the midfield was a stroke of genius. Not only did this give Dallas more bite and defensive presence in the midfield, but also it harnesses Urruti’s relentless energy to also join in the attack as a late runner.

Urruti’s passing chart. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)
Urruti’s defensive chart (Orange - recovery. Green - successful tackle. Blue - interception. Purple - clearance.)

Unsure what Maxi thinks of that role, and whether that’s something the team will continue to use in the future but for this one match up, against a possession heavy team, this made all the difference.

Hedges-Ziegler: A Match Made in Heaven

First it was George John, then Stephen Keel, then Zach Loyd (I still miss that guy), followed by Walker Zimmerman and sometimes Maynor Figueroa. Matt Hedges has had a steady set of CB partners during his career with FC Dallas. I thought Loyd was his perfect partner, but now I’m reconsidering that, thanks to Reto Ziegler.

Ziegler plays very calmly and rarely goes to ground. He doesn’t scramble much, but that’s because he doesn’t need to. Ziegler has relied heavily on his experience and ability to read the game to position himself in the right place at the right time.

That kind of partnership leads to something like this:

SKC shot chart. (Green - Shot on target. Red - Shot off target. Yellow - blocked. Soccer ball - Goal.)

16 shot attempts, but only four on target. Hedges came up big with a couple of tackles inside the penalty area that prevent shots from getting off in the first half, and Ziegler matched it with a pair of crucial interceptions inside the penalty area in the second half.

You know Peter Vermes’ side will dominate on the ball, especially at home. The key is limiting that possession into nothing dangerous and keeping Jesse Gonzalez from having to do much.

There wasn’t much the defense could do on that Gerso curler. Pedroso misread Victor Ulloa’s double team (a product of being new teammates), and he could’ve stepped up to close that out faster but the angles were decent. And then the second goal was just sloppy and a loss of concentration, but that’s something you can afford to do when you’re up 3-1 in the last 60 seconds of the game. Outside of those two moments, Hedges and Ziegler had the SKC attack largely under control and in their pockets.

Dallas concludes their two game road trip with four very solid points and sit 6 points clear in the West. Now we wait for reinforcements from Dominique Badji and Pablo Aranguiz to join the team and bolster the attack.