For the first time since April (!), FC Dallas has secured back to back wins in league play, and just the third time they’ve managed consecutive victories in 2019. The exhale was a sigh of relief for the much needed and deserved victory, but rather validation for Luchi Gonzalez and his team’s work on their new system and finally producing the finished product.
After managing just 31 goals in the first 24 games of the season, Dallas has now erupted for 16 goals in the last five matches, with four goals coming from TAM signing Zdenek Ondrasek in the last three. With what looked like an early season signing bust, The Cobra has started to make this offense tick. And it’s all coming at the right time, as Dallas needs a go to goal scorer down the stretch.
Keepin’ it simple
Ondrasek is a simple player, and I mean that as a complement. There’s nothing complicated about The Cobra - put the ball near him and let him find a way to redirect it towards goal. He is a classic goal poacher, with a big, big presence.
Ondrasek doesn’t contribute to the build up play and he’s generally not an option to keep possession going, but rather he parks himself as high up the field as he can and makes himself available as a target for the midfielders and wingers.
What makes this work so well in Luchi’s system of possession, is that the possession duties are very clear for the other field players. It means that they will always have an option up top as Ondrasek isn’t prone to drop into the midfield to help with the possession game. Ondrasek’s responsibilities are clear: stay high, shoot the ball, score goals.
Ryan Hollingshead is continuing his breakout season, scoring the opening goal in the 12th minute. That tally gives him six for the year, doubling his career output from the previous five seasons and puts him tied for second on the team scoring list with Dominique Badji. While six goals from a left back is absolute luxury for any team, it’s also his defensive work that’s making him an automatic starter for FC Dallas.
It’s not unusual for Hollingshead to have a strong showing defensively, but it is rather remarkable for a converted left back to be able to play both ways so intricately as Hollingshead does week in and week out.
When Dallas needs to step it up in the possession scheme, Hollingshead often slides himself into the midfield and gives Dallas an extra man and another option to cycle the ball and push it further up field. This is uniquely helpful for Dallas since they’re now relying on Ondrasek to stay high up the field to occupy the two central defenders. This creates an advantage that Dallas has been able to capitalize on with Brandon Servania.
OK, “ball slinger” isn’t a soccer term but I don’t really have another term for how to describe how Servania plays. Servania plays a fast yet simple tempo. He’s usually playing one or two touches and manages to move the ball quickly up the field.
Having someone that can shuttle the ball quickly is paramount to Luchi’s system. Once Hollingshead moves into the midfield, he’s created a mismatch and stretches the defense, which then creates an open space on the right side, where Michael Barrios is. Basically, it’s move the ball to the left wing to Hollingshead, shift the defense over to the left side, get the ball to Servania and let him quickly sling the ball to the right side to a wide open Michael Barrios.
It’s simple soccer and yet incredibly effective. When you watch Servania play he doesn’t look hurried and it doesn’t appear that he’s playing very fast or quick, but somehow his quick decisions on the ball are making everything tick for Luchi’s offense right now.