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What we learned against Minnesota United: Good things from a bad game

Reynolds and Ricaurte were bright spots in a disappointing outing.

MLS: FC Dallas at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Things got off to a rocky start at Allianz Field and FC Dallas never quite recovered. While the 3-2 score line doesn’t hint at much separation between the two teams, Dallas were soundly outplayed. But perhaps the game wasn’t a total wash.

Big things from kids

Bryan Reynolds got the start at right back, Dante Sealy saw some minutes, and Ricardo Pepi bagged a goal—not bad for a silver lining.

Reynolds performed sufficiently well in the final third. He coupled well with Michael Barrios and found himself in a few dangerous positions on the end line. But given his background as a striker and winger, the attack isn’t where he needs to grow.

I suspect the back three was picked to stop Minnesota United from singling him out with an aggressive press, but even from a more advanced position he was a shaky defender.

Reynolds’ passing chart

The volume of the passes in the final third is very promising. It’s great to see him eager to get forward and to do so with confidence. But being good in the final third makes him a good winger, not a good fullback. He’s going to have to sure up his passing out of the back. He lost possession far too many times in his own half, but so did the team’s veterans.

Back five failures

The worst thing about this week’s back five may not have been the actual play of the defenders, but rather that the midfield was outnumbered and overwhelmed. Thiago Santos and Brandon Servania were asked to carry the entire midfield on their own. Neither had a great individual game, but tactically things were wrong from the start up. MNU’s front four were able to easily occupy the twin pivots, which left plenty of space for Gregus and Dotson to push forward and overwhelm the already struggling defense.

Ryan Hollingshead didn’t perform as the center defender in the back three. Yes, he’s a very versatile player, but forcing him into the center back position makes absolutely no sense. With Hedges out, Dallas only have two starting quality center backs—Reto Ziegler and Bressan— so why pick a formation in which your thinnest position is made even more thin?

I’ve hated the back five long before this, but if Luchi Gonzalez doesn’t give up on it soon it’s going to cost him his job. Week after week he’s being overthinking things and being out coached.

Ricaurte arrives

We saw extended minutes from Andres Ricaurte from the first time. He tried some impressive passes and showed some technical ability, but most importantly he found himself in dangerous positions.

Ricaurte’s passing chart

Right here we can see him getting touches near the top of the box. He’s a little hesitant to try dangerous passes into the box and opted instead to play primarily out wide, but he’ll start to hit those incisive passes once he knows his teammates better.

All in all, it’s an away loss. We’ll live to fight another day, but hopefully next time we won’t look so bad.

  • Is anyone not ready to see Reynolds at right back every game?
  • Was the back five to blame this week?
  • Where does Ricaurte fit into the team this season?