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Scratching the Chalkboard: Can FC Dallas rely on Maxi Urruti?

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Perhaps it’s time to bench the striker for a bit.

MLS: Columbus Crew at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas settled for a relatively disappointing draw against the Columbus Crew. A point is still a point and against a well coached Crew team, and paired with a a lackluster performance, you might just consider that a decent outcome.

Dallas looked very lifeless and out of ideas from the start, as if the early high press from the Crew confused them on how to move forward. Though that is not surprising given that it’s incredibly rare that an away side will go for an early press at Toyota Stadium. The lack of response from the team was probably most troubling, but those games happen from time to time.

This was one of the rare occasions where Oscar Pareja was out-coached and it may just give the remaining teams a blueprint on how to stifle this Dallas attack.

Don’t let them turn

One of the things that Gregg Berhalter did so well was making sure his fullbacks were fully engaged whenever the ball went to the wings.

Mosquera’s touches vs CLB

It was pretty evident within the first 10-15 minutes that Harrison Afful wasn’t going to let Santiago Mosquera beat him. The second Santi got the ball, Afful was right behind him applying just enough pressure to force Santi to do the smart thing and return the ball back to the defenders. By not offering Santi any space whatsoever to turn, Mosquera had few chances to go at defenses or to try to get behind them. This nullified the left side of the FCD attack and made things even simpler on the other side too.

Cannon’s first half touches vs CLB

So if things aren’t going on one side, the natural thing is to try to exploit the other wing or through the middle. Reggie Cannon was very tidy on the ball, but because Mosquera was shut down on the left by one player, it meant nobody on the Crew’s defense would cheat over to help. By keeping their shape, Cannon had no options to overlap or to get in behind the defense.

There was just nothing going forward for this team and credit to the Crew and Berhalter for executing a perfect game plan.

Time to bench Urruti

Maximilliano Urruti offers a ton to this team, even when not scoring or setting up goals. His energy and motor are second to none on this team. So while he’s not scoring, he still offers something to warrant minutes. With that said, he does need to have a seat on the bench in the next game.

Urruti’s problem? His lack of tactical awareness in relation to his teammates. This is not to say he doesn’t have a soccer brain - he does, or that he doesn’t know how to play with his teammates - again, he does. The problem right now is he too often gets too excited like a dog chasing a ball, and forgets what his surroundings are and what’s needed from him.

So some quick context for the clip below - Dallas just absorbed a lot of pressure and had just defended a corner kick, so everyone was deep in their own half. Matt Hedges hoofs the ball up to release the pressure and to regroup. Look at what Urruti does, where his teammates are and Urruti’s expression afterwards.

This is a disconnect from Urruti and the rest of the team’s understanding of when to press and when not to. Though this is just one clip, this is not an isolated incident. Too often Urruti goes chasing the ball either too deep or too high without any regard of what his team is trying to do. By pressing solo like that, it took one touch from Zach Steffen to take him out of play and suddenly the Dallas defense is at a disadvantage again.

When used as a striker, Urruti’s insistence of dropping into the midfield meant that whenever Dallas won the ball back, they had no one to pass to. And when he runs up like that, without his teammates joining him, he leaves them exposed defensively and it forces someone like Dominique Badji to stay back where Urruti was supposed to be.

All of Badji’s touches vs CLB. (No shots, no touches inside penalty area)

This kind of Lone Ranger mentality does have a place on a team, just not as a starter. As a sub with 20-30 minutes to go? You bet your ass that Urruti’s relentless running will cause problems for the opposition, and give his teammates an added boost of adrenaline and confidence. In the 20th minute? Not so much.

Urruti’s been great for this club, but he needs to start maturing with his decision making otherwise, his best position will soon be a Super Sub.