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What we learned against the Houston Dynamo: Rivalry with who?

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FC Dallas squared off against Alan Kelly to poor effect.

MLS: FC Dallas at Houston Dynamo Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

I guess technically El Capitan is a thing, but it felt like both teams did as much as they could to downplay this rivalry. The on-field result was a tepid mix of lack of offensive creativity and referee intervention.

Dallas are going to have to buckle down and sort things out quick because Paxton Pomykal isn’t coming back anytime soon between this injury and the U20 World Cup.

Alan Kelly beats FCD 2-1

While the MLS site will tell you that FC Dallas played the Houston Dynamo this week, watching the game it felt a lot more like Dallas was playing Alan Kelly.

Two plus critical officiating decisions went against Dallas this week. With a different official the result could have been very different so it’s difficult to feel too strongly about it. I’m still not sure what happened on the called-back Mosquera goal at the end.

You have to just let games go sometimes. It would be easier without the glimmer or hope near the end, but with Paxton out, there wasn’t overwhelming optimism about this one in our match predictions.

Dallas just have to regroup and try to get their mojo back. This is dangerously close to the time of year when Pareja’s teams would start to slack, so it’ll be interesting to see how all the new faces in the locker room react to a dip in form.

They’re alive!

Dominique Badji scored a goal! Santiago Mosquera kind of did too! We’ve been lamenting the absence of a super sub the last few weeks and it’s refreshing to see signs of life from a few of the options. But it’s going to take more than just the subs to be in good form. Luchi is going to have to find a way to build the tactics around them when they come on. Badji is not the same player as Jesus Ferreira. So he has to decide how he can change the style of play to accentuate Badji’s energy and unique skill set. The same goes for Mosquera.

Mosquera, by his nature, takes control of the game when he’s on the pitch (besides the times he’s completely invisible). He picks up the ball and tries to create, he tries penetrating passes and darting dribbles, but he misses the mark more often than not. But this week he showed signs of refining his game. In the past, he’s been a bit like a high volume scorer in the NBA. Maybe he can create a couple flashy opportunities per game, but when he’s the only guy that’s attempting to create them, that can detract from the success of the team as a whole. Alternatively, sometimes you need a sparkplug from the bench that’s willing to try things themselves.

If Mosquera can find a place in either of these roles has yet to be proven, but at least there are reassuring signs.

Acosta is still settling

What exactly do we expect of Bryan Acosta in this system? I’m not sure we know yet. We have two more defensive minded midfielders that he’s been paired with and we often call him a box to box midfielder, but what does that look like in Luchi’s team? How does the absence of Paxton impact what we expect from him? I’m not sure these questions have answers yet. He’s shown the ability to spray long passes from deep and carry the ball up field, but when should he do those?

It’s easy to forget that Luchi is a new coach and questions like these are still resolving themselves. While it can be difficult to watch a team that struggles to sort out the basic question of player roles, you can still be an effective team without a perfectly drilled system. Acosta is a solid wildcard player who you can let loose in the midfield and ask him to contribute where he can. It just takes some getting used to seeing a free flowing 8 instead of a 10.

Any hot takes on the rivalry? Do you want to just trash Houston in the comments and not even ignore the game? Are you bullish or bearish on Acosta’s role with the team? Does Dallas get the result next week against the Red Bulls?