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What we learned against the Philadelphia Union: Road struggles continue

Dallas haven’t looked strong on the road this season. How can Luchi change that?

MLS: FC Dallas at Philadelphia Union Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas looked set to depart Talen Energy Stadium with a point until a stoppage time goal from Alejandro Bedoya put the Union up 2-1. Dallas’ second half collapse was indicative of a team that started five homegrown players and was without Carlos Gruezo, Jesse Gonzalez, or Pablo Aranguiz because of the always concerning “violation of team policy.” While the eye test says that Dallas deserved a point, they were out shot 18-3 and gave up the lion’s share of possession to Philly. Is this game an outlier or a indicator of tough times to come?

Shot, Shot, Shot

Only Reto Ziegler, Ryan Hollingshead, and Jesus Ferreira registered a shot this week and only Ziegler’s was on frame. While Dallas did a good job finding space early in the game, the attack stagnated. Ferreira received a few crosses in the box, but took an extra touch or picked the wrong pass and the attack fizzled out.

That’s what happens when you don’t have consistent personnel. That’s what happens when you start a 17-year old midfielder as your left winger. I’m not saying any of these things are bad. Thomas Roberts looks very promising and I enjoy seeing Dallas take a new approach to their attack each week, but if you experiment with the lineup every week— they’re not all going to be hits.

How can Dallas create more consistent attacking opportunities especially in road games? Consistency would help. But you have to find something that works first before you should consistently do it. So if the next road game Luchi sends out Zdenek Ondrasek at striker, Dominque Badji on the left wing and tries to counter and spray them with long balls and it works, then you do that for road games. If the answer is Ferreira and Aranguiz, then stick with it. The problem is: we don’t know what works yet. A lot of this team are still unknown commodities. As the season progresses, Luchi should have a better understanding of his personnel and how to make them successful.

Where’s my super sub?

Dallas desperately need someone who can change the game off of the bench. That’s where a lot of the enthusiasm for Cobra comes from. I’m a bit bigger on Aranguiz than other fans are at this point in his Dallas tenure, but either way, Dallas have to be able to adapt to games better. It’s not easy to decide when you should stop trying to let the players out of the field together mesh and when you should make a sub. Unfortunately for Luchi, he doesn’t have a super sub that can make that decision easy for him.

Even though he doesn’t have one now, he can groom someone for that role and get them to contribute. The questions are: who is it going to be? And how long is it going to take them to start contributing?

Emergency defending

This is a bit of a paradox, but Dallas emergency defended quite well. Hedges and Ziegler were put in one on one situations frequently and they showed the confidence to step up and clear the danger. While you don’t want to rely on being good at emergency defending (because you don’t want to be put in those situations in the first place), it’s very reassuring for Dallas’ stability this season that Ziegler and Hedges continue to play at a high level. Add Gruezo to that equation (assuming there are no lasting consequences of his violation of team policy) and Dallas should be able to keep a few clean sheets that they may not deserve. But that’s how the game goes. No one asks if how you got your points was pretty.

Tweet of the Game:

Are you panicking after the loss? How can Dallas adapt better to road games? Could Ziegler’s free kick have been any more perfect? Sound off in the comments!