FC Dallas lost their first home game of the season against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. The Hoops fell 3-1 despite out-shooting and out-posessing the competition. FCD are winless in their last three as Luchi Gonzalez’s team has struggled to put the pieces together.
This week I want to elaborate on some talking points from our wonderful Big D After Dark show that a few of our writers have started putting together. You can find previous recordings of shows and catch it when it’s live on the Big D Soccer Facebook page.
Giving thanks for Barrios
One critical piece that was missing this week was Michael Barrios. His absence was obvious as the attack struggled to generate chances without relying on his pace to stretch defenses.
Dallas haven’t been able to generate consistent opportunities without Barrios this year. He’s been the main outlet for FCD’s attack for about a season and a half now. While Paxton has interjected some creativity, he can’t craft an attack on his own. The builder is only as good as his tools. And Dallas has to put some more tools on his tool belt. But while that currently looks unlikely, we can at least appreciate the one that we have in Michael Barrios.
His resiliency is unheard of and he’s taken major steps forward in developing his game recently. He’s much more composed in the final third, and while he isn’t linking with Cannon as much as he did last year, he’s looked even more in-sync with the rest of Dallas’ attack.
Building around Aranguiz?
If Pablo Aranguiz is going to start, his best role is as a pure 10. He is a luxury player. He has to be accommodated by extra structure in the back to support him exerting all of his effort on the attack. Luchi chose not to do that this week. While defensive midfield options were limited, neither Jacori Hayes nor Bryan Acosta looked incredibly eager to sit in the hole and protect the back line. That’s not the kind of players they are. Edwin Cerrillo or Carlos Gruezo could have done that role perfectly. But the more important a priori question is, is Aranguiz worth building an entire line up around?
That’s the kind of impact that a luxury player requires. When that player was Mauro Diaz, it was obvious that it was worth it, but if that player is Aranguiz... The case isn’t strong.
Hollingshead the winger
The idea of starting Ryan Hollingshead as a winger and sticking John Nelson at left back to make the most of that struggling left wing position had been floated around some, apparently Luchi thought it was a solid enough idea to give it a shot (further confirming that Luchi is a Big D Soccer regular).
On paper it puts a more productive player in the left wing position (Hollingshead) and the only sacrifice is a minor drop-off in quality at left back in Nelson (which says a lot about how much we’ve liked what we’ve seen out of him so far). Unfortunately, moving names around on a team sheet is a lot easier than getting those pieces to play well together. While the lineup may have made sense, you still have to account for the lack of chemistry between Nelson and Reto Ziegler, as well as Ryan readjusting to playing a more advanced role.
There are definite cons to being a lineup tinkerer. While this week it was out of necessity, Dallas has to be careful not to shake things up too often and must have the patience to let chemistry and connections between players develop. It’s hard enough to win with a bunch of kids, it’s even harder to win with a bunch of kids that have never played next to each other.
Have you caught an episode of Big D After Dark yet? Are you hitting the panic button? Are things going to get worse for Dallas before they get better? Has the team run out of ideas? Should we can Luchi and hire Kenny Cooper?