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Scratching the Chalkboard: Go Right and Go Direct

Dallas played with more aggression, more direct and got the goals

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

FC Dallas managed to do a few first on Saturday evening in their 5-3 victory over the Minnesota United. First, they scored... and scored, and scored, and scored and one more for good measure. After being shut out in four of the last six, unleashing for five against a surging MinU side is a big positive. Second, they got their first points after conceding the opening goal. Dallas was 0-8-0 after conceding the first goal, but found a way to change that narrative. Third, going direct was good. More on that below.

Get the ball right

Reggie Cannon and Michael Barrios have occupied the right side of the field, and despite being very dangerous players in their own right, they are not known for the abilities to combine with each other. Their games are a little too similar, as Barrios tends to play like a traditional winger who likes to hug the sideline. Cannon is similar, though has a preference to provide an inverted overlap by running inside rather than outside. You see that on full display on Cannon’s goal.

Most traditional overlapping right backs would’ve seen the space behind Barrios’ back and gone that direction to get more width. Instead, Canno does what he does best and goes inside and more direct towards goal. Yes, it was little lucky that his shot squirted under Vito Mannone, but the shot was quality - hard, low and on target.

Cannon and Barrios’ offensive chart vs MIN

There were instances where the midfield trio of Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira and Bryan Acosta were able to thread a ball behind the lines for Barrios to run on to. Going direct to Barrios has served Dallas well in the past few years. Now that Barrios has been able to add better passing/crossing to his skill set and Dominique Badji making excellent runs all night, going Route 1 to Barrios could be the teams’ best option going forward.

(Yes, Badji was excellent. No, he didn’t get on the ball that much but he made incredibly dangerous runs all night long in the penalty area.)

Let the Homegrowns Go

Over the winter break, we saw some glimpses of the future when Pomykal and Brandon Servania anchored the USMNT U20 side during World Cup qualifying. The two combined brilliantly for multiple goals and linked up routinely to set their teammates up.

Pomykal and Servania’s offensive chart vs MIN

Against Minnesota, we saw a similar thing unfold with Pomykal driving the team’s offense and Servania playing off his fellow Homegrown teammate so well. Servania’s two goals were set up by Pomykal and there was an aggression from Servania to just go direct to goal. His well timed runs into the penalty area paid off as Dallas secured a much needed three points.

Pressing Unit

This was probably the first time in a while that I’ve seen Dallas press well together as a unit. You can see the team responding well to their cues and pressing together as a unit when Badji goes, or Pomykal goes or Ferreira goes. Every now and then we’ll see someone start to press, and only some or none of the other Dallas players responding together in unison. Typically we see these kinds of mental breaks when it’s hot, but perhaps in true fashion of living up to their old moniker, the Dallas Burn, FCD seemed to be stronger the hotter the evening got both in temperature and in game situation.

FCD’s defensive actions vs MIN

Minnesota did drop back quite a bit, but Dallas still opted to press harder whenever they lost the ball and tried to convert those turnovers back into scoring chances. The result was 22 defensive actions inside the opposition’s half and the ultimate end result was 20 shots for Dallas, with 11 on goal.

Going direct the rest of the season isn’t going to work, but when things weren’t clicking on the offensive side, it’s good to change things up and see what happens.