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What we learned against the Vancouver Whitecaps: Dallas can get it done

What can you take away from a game like this?

MLS: FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas grabbed three important road points against the Vancouver Whitecaps to put themselves back atop the Western Conference. This victory was made even sweeter by Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders both losing.

Kei Kamara and Fanendo Adi

There are a few players in the league that just seem to have Dallas’ number. The first two that come to mind for me are Kei Kamara and Fanendo Adi. In 13 starts against Dallas, Kamara has six goals and Adi has four goals in nine starts. While neither of those goal totals are too awe-inspiring, if you’re familiar with both of those player’s performances against Dallas, you know that those numbers are deceivingly low.

When Adi and Kamara are on the pitch they bring chaos. They use their bodies to win balls that they shouldn’t and constantly agitate the back line while probing for space. They contribute intangibles that aren’t reflected in goal tallies: attention required, headers won, center backs pissed off.

These are the two players that scare me the most when they come to town and they both happen to be two of the most physically gifted strikers in MLS (Well... USL now for Adi). That isn’t a coincidence.

So why does Dallas seem to struggle so much with physical attackers?

The problem isn’t size. Adi and Kamara have been terrorizing FCD since the Zimmerman days. Zimm was a great physical defender, but Adi certainly had his number.

The problem is organization. Like I said, these thrive on chaos. Hedges, for all his strengths, is not an on-field general. While he is accomplished, the captain, and a veteran of the team, Dallas are far too prone to disorganization under his command. You could levy the blame on Pareja as well, but the point is that Dallas’ lack of control in many games are why they aren’t taken seriously across the league.

You have to be able to shut guys like Kamara and Adi out of games. You know that’s how the other team is going to try to score, so you have to adapt tactically to take those guys out of the equation. Dallas has historically struggled with executing its game plan and this week didn’t feel much different.

Rough game for Reggie

Andrew singled it out as his match up to watch in his pregame scouting report and he got it right. All eyes were on the youngsters last night as Cannon and Davies did their best to convince the rest of MLS that they’re the real deal. Unfortunately, Davies got the better of Cannon.

Vancouver’s key passes and assists (yellow- key pass, blue- assist)

Cannon hasn’t had many bad games this season, but this was definitely one of them. Vancouver had five key passes and an assist from his side.

He didn’t offer much going forward either (mostly to accommodate for the Davies threat).

Cannon’s passing chart vs Vancouver (green- successful, red-unsuccessful)

That level of passing accuracy is uncharacteristic for Reggie. It’s possible that he struggled to adapt to the turf. It’s understandable that a young player may not have the nuance yet in their game to be able to perfectly acclimate to turf.

Either way, you won’t see me worrying too much about Cannon because Davies can give any right back in the league fits.

A high note

This game was a mess. It was end to end for much of the first half and was full of moments that made you cover your eyes in horror. I’ve spent much of this article focusing on the negatives, but this isn’t the kind of game where you should focus on the negatives. This was a battle. And in battles all that matters is who won.

The pace of this game means that you can’t take too much away from it except for the result. Neither team had a chance to get settled and it caused the game to open up.

Dallas persevered and clinched a later winner. That’s much more important to Dallas’ playoff prospects this season than whether or not we have a well organized back line or if Reggie had a bad game.