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Scratching the Chalkboard: Fullbacks give Dallas the three points

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Bryan Reynolds continues his meteoric rise in the win.

MLS: Inter Miami CF at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

When Reggie Cannon was sold over the summer, there was a bittersweet moment knowing that one of the Academy’s best was departing Frisco. It was well earned and there was also a buzz around the team regarding who was coming up next: Bryan Reynolds. Reynolds is a converted attacking player, so I was curious how he’d adapt his game and he’s been nothing short of spectacular since being given the chance to claim his spot at the right back position for Dallas.

Finding His Spots

One thing that opposing teams have able to do a better job of in 2020 has been limiting the number of times Dallas’ right back can overlap and join in the attack with Michael Barrios. Reggie Cannon couldn’t get forward as frequently as he used to in 2019, and the same was happening last night when Miami shifted their defense to give more space on the left side for Fafa Picault and Ryan Hollingshead.

Reynolds wasn’t afforded many chances to go forward in the first half, but as the game wore on, he and Barrios eventually found their footing and spaces to get into the attack with more frequency.

Reynolds’ passing chart vs MIA in the first half
Reynolds’ passing chart vs MIA in the second half

Miami did have the lead at that point and were trying to tighten up the middle, which opened up more opportunities and space for the fullbacks to get forward in the attack. The good thing here is that Reynolds, despite his relative young age and experience didn’t force his way up or try to jump in the attack when it wasn’t the right time to. While he does possess the speed to recover any ill advised run up the field, conserving his energy for timely bursts up the field is exactly what Dallas needs to create their chances.

Balance

One advantage of having two attacking fullbacks available is the ability to balance out the point of attack. Because the defensive shape from Miami was more concerned about Barrios and Reynolds, it afforded more space for Picault and more importantly, Ryan Hollingshead to attack.

Hollingshead’s first half attacking chart vs MIA

Hollingshead was able to get into the attack more and created the most scoring opportunities than any other Dallas player in the first half.

Hollingshead’s second half attacking chart vs MIA

Once Miami took the lead and started packing it in more, it created more space on the right for Reynolds and thus Hollingshead took more of a back seat. But of course, it was his lung busting, trademark late run into the box that delivered the final goods to give Dallas the three points.

Props to Santos

Finally, FC Dallas got to see the best of Thiago Santos last night. Unclear if it’s because he was rested or he prefers playing in a more defined role, but either way, Santos bossed the midfield and broke up just about every Miami attack with aplomb last night.

Santos’ defensive actions vs MIA

One thing that doesn’t appear on these charts is the way Santos anticipated passing lanes and stepped quickly to cover the space. He flashed the passing lane as an opportunity and then at the last second, he’d close that lane and the Miami attacker would have to cycle the ball somewhere else. This disruption meant Miami never really got into any kind of rhythmic flow to get any serious offense going for any sustained period of time.

Santos’ passing chart vs MIA

But it wasn’t just his defensive work rate that did the trick, Santos also pinged the ball well and safely for the Dallas offense. At times he could’ve picked up the pace and moved the ball quicker, but overall he did his job superbly last night.

Dallas picked up three vital points and now a win against Houston on Saturday will seal a playoff spot for FCD. But despite scoring two goals, there’s still a lot to be desired from the offensive end from this team. The best scoring chances were created by Bryan Reynolds (drew the penalty and provided the assist) and Ryan Hollingshead (most shot attempts and the game winner). It’s nice to have as a luxury to have offensive power coming from the defense, but at some point the forwards and wingers need to step it up too.