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FIFA 2020: FC Dallas takes on UEFA Europa League

FC Dallas begin play in the UEFA Europa League group stage, and attempts to keep pace in the English Championship.

Welcome to Season 3: Episode 2 of the FC Dallas FIFA 20 play through.

In Season 3: Episode 1, FC Dallas made some massive additions to the roster, finalizing the squad that would carry us to mid season. The club also began the first month of English Championship play and qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stage.

In this episode, FC Dallas will participate in the UEFA Europa League group stage and compete in the 2nd (September), 3rd (October), and 4th (November) months of the English Championship.

Note: This is a Clean Play Through. This means no shenanigans are allowed at all, and we’ll have to roll with the punches as they come.

Carabao Cup

FC Dallas starts Carabao Cup play in the first week of September and faces struggling Hull City. Carabao Cup is not a priority this season, even though FC Dallas are the defending champions. The reason for that is that Carabao Cup payouts are the lowest of all four competitions FC Dallas will be competing in this season.

Hull City bunkers down and forces the match to go to PKs

Just like that, FC Dallas is eliminated from the Carabao Cup. While it was not a priority, it still stings to be eliminated so early into Carabao Cup play. I opted to go for the win late, instead of subbing in my best PK takers, and it came back to bite me in the backside.

Tips & Tricks #1: You should always have your three best PK taking reserve players on the bench during knockout tournament play. This way they will sub in before the conclusion of a match that is clearly going to go into PKs. These PK takers should be subbed in for your three worst PK taking starters (regardless of position). Making sure you get all three of them in before the final whistle is simple, just have one of your players boot the ball out of bounds in the final minutes.

UEFA Europa League Group G

Valencia CF (Spain) is the group favorite, but is a beatable team. FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland) and Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) are both tough yet manageable opponents. FC Dallas should come out no worst than 2nd place based on the opposition and has a legit chance to win Group G.

A quick reminder of the starting 11 that will carry FC Dallas through the group stage

FC Dallas vs. FC Basel 1893, Home Leg

FC Dallas hosts FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland) and doesn’t let the home fans down:

FC Dallas goes on to secure a crushing 4-1 win over FC Basel 1893.

Valencia CF vs. FC Dallas, Away Leg

FC Dallas then travels to group G favorite Valencia CF (Spain). FC Dallas manages to survive several early chances by Valencia CF and goes into half time all tied up at 0-0. The game continues to be a chess match, until lightning strikes:

Notice that several defensive minded tactical adjustments were made. This is the defensive set up that works for my playing style.

Tips and Tricks #2: In key matches, when a win is a must, you should consider making defensive adjustments...or simply pack it in. It’s not sexy, and it will lead to a nerve wrecking end to the match, but you should be able to come out victorious.

It soon becomes a moot point, as Josh Sargent gets taken down inside the box in the final minutes of the match:

With the huge upset 2-0 win over Valencia CF, FC Dallas is now the group G leader and has a great chance to win the group.

FC Dallas vs. Dinamo Zagreb, Home Leg, and Away Leg

What should have been a cake walk for FC Dallas turned into a quagmire. Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) played some lock down defense in both matches and forced a pair of draws (0-0 & 1-1). The pair of draws knock FCD down to second place, a point behind Valencia CF.

FC Basel 1893 vs. FC Dallas, Away Leg

The final match between host FC Basel 1893 and FC Dallas is a must win for both. Basel needs a win to keep alive its chances of making it out of the group. FC Dallas needs a win to clinch a spot in the knockout phase and to set up a battle for group supremacy against Valencia CF.

This leads to a wide open match and in that kind of match, speed kills:

A 4-0 win means FC Dallas will be moving on to the knockout phase and sets up a battle for the top spot at Valencia CF.

FC Dallas vs. Valencia CF, Home Leg

Three minutes into the match Ferreira would add his seventh goal in UEFA Europa League play, and FC Dallas would coast to a 2-0 home win.

Jesus Ferreira is second in UEFA Europa League play, with seven goals scored. Jhon Arrias leads UEFA Europa League play with six assists, while Paxton Pomykal is second with four assists. Jesse Gonzalez leads UEFA Europa League play with seven clean sheets.

With the victory over Valencia CF, FC Dallas wins Group G. FC Dallas collects $5.58 million in prize money for winning the group, and now advances to the Round of 32.

English Championship

FC Dallas starts the second month of league play, just two points out of 1st place. A quick reminder of the team that will carry FC Dallas through the bulk of league play

The team continues its winning run into the start of September. The team has not exactly been dominant. FC Dallas has been winning on the back of the fourth ranked defense, and pulling off one-goal wins, as the fifth ranked attack has yet to find its groove.

This sets up a showdown with third place Nottingham Forrest, who manage to hunker down, and keep the match scoreless. Nottingham Forrest then finds a way to score:

FC Dallas would go on to suffer a 1-0 defeat, its first of the regular season. The loss also drops FC Dallas to fourth place, a full four points behind the first place team.

FC Dallas would then go on a 10-match unbeaten streak until the end of November. I wish I could say that FC Dallas was dominant in that streak, but that was not the case. For every win, there were matches with plays like this one:

Mistakes like that one, or say missed penalties, means FC Dallas had to settle for several draws.

By the end of November, FC Dallas has the first-ranked defense and the fifth-ranked attack. At the end of November, Jesus Ferreira is the teams leading scorer in English Championship play with six goals scored, despite the fact that he has only played 10 out of the 19 league matches. No other attacker has more than four goals.

Despite the lack of dominance, FC Dallas finds itself just two points out of first place at the end of November. With the conclusion of the group stage in UEFA Europa League, the Tournament Team will not have any matches outside of regular season play for a full two months. This means that FC Dallas will be at full strength for Season 3: Episode 3.

Let me know your thoughts, comments, criticisms, questions on this play through. Feel free to add any tips and tricks I failed to mention within the discussed portion of this episode.

See you next time, for Season 3: Episode 3