FC Dallas picked up a huge win on the road in Atlanta on Saturday, defending the reigning MLS Cup Champions 2-1.
FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez
On the match…It’s a privilege to work with our players and staff and to have a game like we did, in terms of a result. I thought the first 15-20 minutes we were very positive in our press and we were aggressive. We got numbers upfield and we got an early goal, which is always a good way to start. Obviously, they started to react and respond and commit numbers and then we had to absorb more, especially in the second half. But the counter was on and that tended to be the tactic as the game winded down and we were fortunate to get that second goal in transition. Then at the end, there was more pressure from them that we had to absorb. The penalty got them back into the game, but I know there was no time left. Just have to be really proud of the boys to come here to a beautiful environment for the league, for the world and for soccer and to get a result. I’m proud to be amongst these guys. So, no time to reflect other than tomorrow and Monday and then as the week starts, we are getting ready for San Jose, an in-conference rival. We have to do better in some of these stats in terms of possession and shots. Shots we actually were pretty efficient, of eight we put six on target. But we want to get more of them and more passes together, so we are going to develop that as the week goes on for the next game.
On the formation change…I look at it more of as a three-back with the two and three as outside mids. If you saw, they were breaking their lines to the oppositions outside backs. So, we were encouraging Ryan and Reggie to put pressure on the opponent and then we felt we were defensively sound with three occupying Josef Martinez’s space. We looked at it as more of a three-back, 3-4-1-2, but its fluid. It would become a five-back, especially when we were low. It was a thing we worked on this week. It looked good and had good moments and we went with it.
On closing games…Closing a game is difficult in this league, in any venue let alone this one. We knew they were going to commit numbers there at the end. We talked about it during the week, if we have the opportunity to have an advantage and how we can close a game better, that we need to continue to get pressure on the ball, continue to counter and open spaces. Be clearer on the marks and let’s improve our clears from service and can we fight and win second balls with our forwards and in our midfield? I saw improvement today.
On adjusting to formation shift…We worked on it during the week. We talked about it with the players, amongst the staff, there was some positive feedback. It wasn’t perfect, but we felt confident enough that it was the right way to start this game and we ended up ending it this way. We said that if we need to go into a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, we could with the same personnel on the field. But we stuck with the formation for the rest of the game. Then Bressan picked up an injury. We could have maybe changed it, but we decided to go with it, slot Ryan inside as one of the center backs and get John Nelson on the field. I thought John helped us close that game and he did well.
On the two goals seeming similar…Mikey [Barrios] is a very dynamic player with speed and has great movements in behind. If Brek [Shea] was going to commit forward and they lost possession, it was a space that we felt we could attack. It’s one option, and it ended up helping us on the second goal. The first goal was more through the interior channel with the center backs open. But it was an idea if we could try to expose space in transition, we could recover in the midfield.
FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez
On his performance…It was just the environment. I love playing in these types of environments. Not only me, but the team did a great job. We did what we trained throughout the whole week and I think it gave us the result.
On Dallas’ defense…The whole team did a great job. But I think we still need to work on some things, but luckily, we got the result today.
On closing out matches…I think we need to maintain more possession. That is something that we have to work on. I think we are dropping back too soon when we can still maintain possession. We are still working on some tactics and I think throughout the year we are going to get better at those.
On Josef Martinez’s penalty kick…That was towards the end already. I was like, ‘take your PK and let’s get out of here with a 2-1 win.’
FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler
On today’s match…It was a great first 20 minutes. We put them under pressure in their stadium, and I don’t think many teams did that in the last year, so we are proud of that, but of course, 20 minutes is not enough. It cost us a lot of energy to press. We saw that when we were not pressing, they were building from behind with confidence, and then, of course, we suffered for a bit. But, like I said, we want to play our football – nice football – but sometimes, in these kind-of games, you need to fight and defend. I think we did a good job. We can also thank Jesse Gonzalez, our goalkeeper, he made some great saves.
On closing out today’s match…It’s not easy when they always give six minutes against us. I don’t know if this is right. They had the penalty. I [thought] it was a penalty, but they could score also before. I think they hit the bar a few times. We knew [they’re] a good team, but at the end, we maybe need to keep the ball a bit more at the end of the game to avoid being under pressure.
On how ‘huge’ it is to earn three points from today’s match…Yeah, it is, especially against the champion. It’s important for our confidence since we have a lot of young players on the team. They see that we can win against teams like Atlanta, it gives them confidence because the season is long and so, at the end, I think we deserved it.
FC Dallas defender Bressan
Thoughts on his first MLS start…Happy. Very happy, primarily for the result the team was able to get today.
On how the lineup changed and adjusted after being added to the Starting XI…It was good because it’s important we have options in the team and if head coach Luchi [Gonzalez] needs to change someone or have someone start, we have two or three options to be able to get results for the team.
FC Dallas midfielder Edwin Cerrillo
On his fifth straight start…Every match I’m just given the opportunity to go out there and start. I am nervous for every game but once I step on the field for the warmups, it kind of just goes away. I think game by game I’m gaining confidence from the coaches and from the players to show that I can play.