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Scratching the Chalkboard: FC Dallas experiencing the lows of “Play Your Kids”

Fun mantra with great upside, but “Play Your Kids” has a serious downside too

MLS: Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas put up a very uninspiring performance on Saturday evening against Real Salt Lake. Though not a home loss, nobody would’ve been surprised to see Dallas throw away a game given how lethargic they played for the entire evening. For better and for worse, this team has been built around Paxton Pomykal - when he’s on, this team thrives, when he’s off or on the bench, nobody has any ideas on what needs to happen.

“Play Your Kids” is tough

On paper and in theory, “Play Your Kids” is a fun mantra. You get energetic kids out there who are looking to impress and make a claim that they belong. Generally, it leaves the play on the field to be a little faster, more passionate and little reckless - which is both fun and dangerous.

When the likes of a Brandon Servania get matched up against a Kyle Beckerman, you sometimes get this:

Servania passing chart vs RSL

By all accounts, Servania has done well filling in for Carlos Gruezo given his limited experience. Sometimes he makes you forget Dallas ever had Gruezo on the team, but sometimes a savvy veteran like Beckerman can it look like you have no business being on the same field as him.

Servania defensive actions vs RSL

Servania could not find the game, and spent most of it chasing as he was pulled out of position for most of the night. These things happen for young bucks, but it does put out a blueprint for the rest of the opposition that if you can confuse and disrupt Servania’s rhythm, Dallas doesn’t have enough parts to cover.

For comparison sake, here’s how Beckerman bossed the Dallas midfield:

Beckerman’s passing chart vs FCD

Is Colman ready?

I get Cristian Colman is a very polarizing figure around these parts. On one hand, he’s been one of the most wasteful strikers on this team for the past few years, yet on the other, he’s also been consistent in creating chances. At this stage with the Dallas forwards, perhaps just creating chances will be good enough.

FCD’s forwards shot chart

This has continued to be a problem during the Luchi Era - Dallas forwards’ inability to finish or create chances. This is the combined shot chart for Dominique Badji, Santiago Mosquera, Michael Barrios and Zdenek Ondrasek. Four shots, at home, over 90 minutes... just not good enough to contend for a playoff spot. Colman may not do any better, but better to bemoan a striker that keeps missing right?

“Play Your Kids” is fun, real fun when there’s a large batch of ‘em tearing things apart on the field. But like everything, there’s a serious shadow side and Dallas is not experiencing it in a very real and tangible way: young team, new head coach and a new system. There will be days like this, and at best, this team will limp into the playoffs. Worst case? These misfiring forwards cost Dallas several points and miss out on post season play.