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What we learned against the Montreal Impact

IMFC showed Dallas that they have room to grow

MLS: Montreal Impact at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Two late goals helped FC Dallas save face against the Montreal Impact. The 2-2 scoreline flattered Montreal given that they had two shots on goal. However, Dallas didn’t account for the Maxi Urruti factor and couldn’t get three points because of it.

While Dallas out-shot IMFC, they didn’t register a shot on target from the 31st minute to the 83rd—and that’s a problem.

Is the FCD attack in better hands?

Urruti returned to Dallas and did all the things we loved him for. He scored, he pressed, and most importantly, he smiled.

MLS: Montreal Impact at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

While his effort is undeniable, would Dallas want him back? Or is his playing style indicative of a tactical free-for-all that’s antithetical to Luchi’s system?

Out of all the 2018-19 offseason, perhaps it’s Urruti’s that’s the most significant. He was in many senses a mercenary. He arbitrarily roamed the field and did what he thought he needed to do to score goals and to help the team win. I love this mentality. We see something very similar in Cobra right now. However, Cobra’s more traditional striker recognizes an obligation to teammates as well. Other players are going to make phenomenal efforts too, and when they do, Cobra knows they need him in the box for it. However, Urruti’s aggressive and flexible positioning means that he often wasn’t where his teammates needed him to be.

The shift from Urruti to Cobra signifies a dedication to building a team. In the Oscar Pareja years, Dallas often relied on the efforts of individuals: a brilliant pass from Mauro Diaz, a dazzling run from Fabian Castillo, or sheer speed from Michael Barrios. But with players like Cobra, who acknowledge that they are merely one out of eleven, Dallas is building a system rather than relying on a single player’s skill.

But it’s not all sunshine

On Big D After Dark, Jose decried Dallas lack of a creator. And I’ll echo it. Who is this team’s point guard? Who do you want with the ball at their feet? Santos looks like the most gifted passer out of the players on the field last week, but that’s hardly the role he’s being asked to play. Yes, Bryan Acosta is injured, but he’s more of a midfield dynamo who makes their impact through their box to box efforts rather than a superior passing ability. The same goes for goes for Brandon Servania. Jesus Ferreira, and I say this hesitantly because of his age and relative talent, is more skittish on the ball than you want from a player in that role. Santiago Mosquera has shown glimpses, but I see him as more of slippery winger with occasional moments of genius rather than a player that can be relied on week in and week out.

That leaves Paxton Pomykal as the team’s best bet as a creator. And though he’s currently injured, where does he even slot into the lineup? Dallas’ 4-3-3 isn’t built to have a playmaking luxury player only contributes to the attack. Everyone is asked to help out in both phases of the game, which Paxton can do, but it draws him out of dangerous positions and prevents him from focusing on creating.

Dallas’ best eleven depends on the opponent and venue, but regardless, they’re going to have to find a better balance. Once everyone is healthy, it’s going to be a difficult task to key in on the right combinations to get Dallas’ attack firing. But as long as Cobra stays hot and the ten players behind him can give him chances, then it looks like things won’t get too dire.

Where do we go from here

Drawing at home isn’t great, but coming back from two goals down is. It’s certainly not time to raise the alarms yet. Montreal only had two shots on goal and scored them both. Dallas were the much better side at routinely generating chances.

Shot charts vs. Montreal

But once Montreal bunkered down and challenged Dallas to come to them, FCD had a difficult time getting good looks on goal. Like Jason said, Dallas owes this result to Zdenek Ondrasek. And while I’m happy to have him, especially considering he’s on $522K to Maxi’s $1.071M, but Dallas can’t go back to relying on a single player for their attack.

Is going from Maxi to Ondrasek Dallas’ biggest upgrade in recent years? Who can Dallas trust to generate chances? Does Dallas look better on the counter or building out of the back?