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Scratching the Chalkboard: New Year, Same Result

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FC Dallas still unable to find three points

Daniel McCullough

The Luchi Era began with a clever #LuchiGang promo - which highlighted Luchi Gonzalez and all the FCD homegrowns.

With a video like that, you’d think they were forecasting a high number of homegrowns in the starting XI. Maybe not an astronomical number, but certainly more than two (Jesse Gonzalez and Reggie Cannon). But it certainly was no surprise that the first two subs of the Luchi Era were homegrowns, Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira.

The start of the 2019 campaign is off to a rough start. 1-1 draw isn’t awful by any means (FC Dallas also started 2018 in such fashion), but this was against a pretty awful New England side that finished 8th in the East in 2018 and has a head coach who’s main deal is upsetting his best players and trading them away. 1-1 isn’t bad... but as I mentioned in our BigD season preview, my main concern is this team’s offense and where the goals were going to come from. It’s just Week 1, but it this team didn’t show anything to relieve of my worries.

Possession, Possession, Possession

This was kind of preached a bit by Gonzalez during the off-season and pre-season; that this team would focus on possession with a purpose. Dallas absolutely crushed it in this department, getting 67.6% of possession to go along with 641 passes. For some context, Dallas surpassed 600 passes only twice in 2018 and they topped 60% possession also just twice last year.

FCD midfield passing chart. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

The midfield trio of Bryan Acosta, Carlos Gruezo and Jacori Hayes did their part in terms of maintaining possession and cycling the ball around. The downside, which is pretty obvious when you look at the chart, is that the midfield only contributed one key pass in the entire outing. To be fair, neither Acosta, Gruezo or Hayes are creators or #10s, so asking them to have a high number of key passes is akin to me asking winter to bring a warm summer breeze. So why bring it up? Well, take a look at my next point.

Shots, Shots, Shots

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

If you were seated behind the goals in this tussle and it felt like there wasn’t much action going on, well it was true. Both sides managed 9 attempts on goal; a decent showing for New England and an abysmal showing for a home side, that held nearly 68% of possession.

The top shooter? Bryan Acosta. The front line of Dominique Badji, Michael Barrios and Santiago Mosquera each managed just one attempt, and thankfully Barrios didn’t squander his opportunity.

Going back to 2017, FC Dallas have managed less than 10 shot attempts only eight times over the span of two seasons. Dallas has only won once when shooting fewer than 10 shots in those eight matches. There is no direct correlation between Dallas’ record and shot attempts, so please don’t walk away thinking I’m saying Dallas needs to just shoot a lot. (It does, to some degree but not for the sake of it.) But there is a significant decline in positive results when Dallas manages fewer than 10, which is more indicative of their poor play than not being trigger happy in front of goal.

One More Change Needed

Going back to 2018, FC Dallas is now on a five game winless skid in all competitions (0-4-1). The draw did break the four game losing streak, but the lack of any offensive power is still troublesome. While completely unfair to peg last year’s results on #LuchiGang and on Gonzalez, when the fans haven’t done a Stephen Keel celebration in 149 days, you start to doubt whether this new regime is going to do anything different or will this be just another year of disappointment.

So, how can Dallas fix this slide? It’s in line with #PlayYourKids.

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

It was only 17+ minutes for Pomykal, but Paxton immediately started showing glimpses of his abilities in finding space and pulling defenses out of their shape. Had Pomykal had 30-40 minutes to do his thing, there’s no doubt in my mind that FCD wouldn’t have created more chances on goal.

Next game is at home again, against zLAtan and the Galaxy. A win is necessary to set the tone and a message to the players, the staff, the fans and the city that there’s a new order in town, and it’s going to be different. To get that elusive W, Paxton needs to start.