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Scratching the Chalkboard: Dallas gets the possession, but still lacking offensive firepower

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FC Dallas is good keeping the ball, but aren’t generating enough chances off of it.

MLS: FC Dallas at Columbus Crew SC Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas suffered their first loss of the season yesterday to the Columbus Crew in an evenly contested affair. Though Dallas didn’t get the result they wanted, they weren’t played off the pitch either. In previous years, Oscar Pareja’s Dallas teams tended to change their tactical approach based whether they were home or away. Under a new head coach, Luchi Gonzalez promised earlier this week that his teams would remain the same whether home or away, with some minor changes to account for personnel and did not disappoint.

Possession as the best defense

54.7% - Dallas enjoyed, again, the majority of possession against the Crew which is no easy feat to accomplish on the road, especially in Ohio. The Crew have started the Caleb Porter era averaging 61.2% of possession in their first two contests. It’s a very small sample size, but it’s an indication of how the Crew plan to play under Porter. Basically this became a contest between two games who want to be on the ball, and something had to give.

Crew’s shots vs FCD (Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked)

One advantage of having the ball is the rather obvious fact that the opposition cannot score when they don’t have the ball. Gyasi Zardes should’ve buried that blundered rebound in the 22’ minute, but other than that, the Crew didn’t generate many opportunities from open play.

But where’s the offense?

Having the bulk of possession is half the battle. What you do with the ball to facilitate goals is another story. Through three games, FC Dallas haven’t looked dangerous going forward at all, with the rare exception when Paxton Pomykal gets on the ball.

This sequence basically summed it all up for Dallas and Pomykal:

Pomykal makes the right read to apply the pressure, he instantly turns it up field, makes a solid run to get on the ball and plays an excellent ball to Michael Barrios who has a perfect first touch but then scuffs his second. Basically that’s FCD in a nutshell right now. If Pomykal doesn’t do it, nobody will.

I said this in jest, but only half joking:

Pomykal passing chart vs CLB (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Pomykal was easily the best player on the field, which is both exciting and frustrating. While I’m excited that this means he’ll not only see the field more, but also get on the ball too, it’s concerning when the veterans here are playing well below of their levels.

FCD shots vs CLB (Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked)

Here’s what I noticed, and perhaps you did too: the front three of Dominique Badji, Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera generated a total of shot attempts. Two. You know who also put up two shots and actually probably should’ve scored on both of them? The fullback Ryan Hollingshead.

The guy who’s playing defense created two of the better opportunities to score. Oh and the last one? Did you notice who set Hollingshead up for that curler inside the box? The other full-back, John Nelson (who had an excellent debut by the way).

This is week 3; there’s still plenty of season left to play. What’s comforting so far, is even when the team is playing poorly, they’re still not out of it. For how they’ve played this season a 1-1-1 record seems very pair. The upside is that the team clearly has another 3-4 gears to ratchet up to. The question isn’t whether, but rather when will they get to those points?