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What we learned against Portland Timbers: Paxton Pomykal needs help

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Yes, he’s the new face of the franchise, but he’s not a one-player attack

MLS: FC Dallas at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas battled the Portland Timbers on short rest. The result was about what should be expected when you field the same lineup that played on Wednesday, are playing on turf, and have generally struggled on the road. Given those unfavorable variables, Dallas played well and could have come away with at least a point.

MLS Officiating

There have been games where Dallas has been screwed out of a result by officiating. This wasn’t one of them, but regardless, I found myself frustrated by some of the decisions Allen Chapman made.

Portland was beating our guys up. They out-fouled us 15-7, but that doesn’t account for the aggressive body to body challenges that weren’t being called. I expect some home cooking, sure, but it felt like our players weren’t being protected. Paxton and Badji seemed to be getting the worst of it. After Barrios got knocked out of last week’s game by a horror tackle, I’m frustrated that our players don’t receive the protection from officials that they deserve. I know we have a reputation as a team that’s willing to bend the rules when it comes to time wasting, but that doesn’t mean the other team should get a pass to consistently come in late on us. Portland only receiving a single yellow card is a joke.

There were two moments in the second half that felt ridiculously bush league. About midway through Chapman started to play an FCD advantage, saw that Portland wanted to make a sub, and then called play back to the spot of the foul so they could get a sub in. You don’t take away an advantage for a sub, especially for the other team’s sub.

Barring the Luis Suarez 2010 World Cup handball, I’ve never seen anything like Moreira punching the ball away on a counter (that was Portland’s only yellow card by the way). How can you treat that the same way as a professional foul? As a defender you might as well punch away long balls late in the game now just to be safe.

Unknown commodities

We’re really starting to get to know Brandon Servania and to a lesser degree Edwin Cerrillo. While Cerrillo has already played in 11 games, I’m still not sure what exactly we’ve got. Obviously he’s a good player, but he isn’t a Carlos Gruezo clone. He seems primarily defensive-focused, but still useful in cycling possession in the midfield. He has good instincts, but only average physical tools. With Gruezo’s impending departure, I’m looking forward to seeing how he slots in with whoever his long-term partner is.

Servania is another one who has had limited first team minutes. He’s got a cannon for a leg and a great passing range. At best maybe a Kellyn Acosta-Fernandinho hybrid. He’s composed on the ball and can really fit our possession-based system. But after only three starts, we just don’t know.

I’m excited to see how our midfield shakes out if Gruezo leaves (I’ll miss you). We have a lot of talent and seeing different partnerships could really change the way the team plays. I’m confident that between Bryan Acosta, Cerrillo, Servania, Paxton Pomykal, and Jacori Hayes that there’s a midfield that can dominate. But as of right now, they’re still not much of a match for Diego Chara.

Paxton can’t do it all

If Dominque Badji is having a bad game like he did, then the only players capable of creating opportunities in the final third are Paxton and Michael Barrios. Jesus Ferreira has dropped deep to try to get chances started, but when he does that there’s no one ahead of him to play the ball to.

Santiago Mosquera could be the answer, but he’s too much of a wildcard every time he comes on the pitch. It’s like unleashing the Tasmanian devil. Sure there are fits of energy that are impressive and he’s talented in a lot of ways, but it just never seems to result in anything. Bryan Acosta has a good passing range and can play guys through, but his positioning is often too deep for him to make an impact in the final third.

That means it’s just Paxton in the middle of the pitch being asked to lead the entire attack himself, and for a guy like Chara, that’s easy to manage. Dallas have to give Paxton some help, whether that giving Acosta more minutes and asking him to play higher up the pitch or trying an Acosta-Servania partnership to get some more attacking juices flowing in the midfield, Luchi has to try something to support the attack.


Did you like what you saw from FCD? Did the officiating bother you as much as it did me? Does Mosquera have something to offer? Did you fall asleep too early to watch the game? Let me know in the comments!