FC Dallas delivered Houston their first loss in six matches, thanks in part by one of the filthiest sideways volley (scissor?) strike from Andres Ricaurte to put Dallas up 1-0 in the first half. It wasn’t the decisive goal but immediately showed off exactly what Ricaurte’s left foot could bring to this team and gave Dallas some energy and confidence in the Texas Derby.
Off the bat, I should admit that I definitely missed the mark on this one. Ricaurte’s arrival gave me Rolando Escobar vibes - lots of hype and promise but didn’t really have what it took to play in MLS and not what Dallas needed. I was dead wrong.
Of course, one second half appearance and one start isn’t a large sample size but there was definitely enough there to realize how I misjudged this mid-season transfer.
I’m still really high on Paxton Pomykal and his future on this team but Pomykal and Ricaurte are very different attacking midfielders. Pomykal drives the ball down the opposition’s defense, whereas Ricaurte prefers a different approach of pinging the ball quickly all over the field. You can see this in action from the chart above, where Ricaurte managed to get the ball out from deep within the midfield and out to the wing in very advanced positions.
This kind of passing range is going to be delicious to watch especially with the increasing development of the man of the match in Bryan Reynolds out on the right side.
The Academy Continues to Shine
This isn’t new at all, but still merits saying: The FC Dallas Academy is the standard in this league. This became even more evident with the sale of Reggie Cannon and Dallas barely missed a step with the introduction of Reynolds into the rightback spot.
Reynolds is a converted attacking player, so his offensive instincts and abilities were not the concern. The question was whether Reynolds could mentally make the shift from attacking to defending, and does he have the ability to make the right adjustments to his positioning. Attacking as a winger doesn’t require as much unity with the rest of the unit and you are granted more freedoms to isolate yourself to create 1v1 situations. As a defender, you must be always aware of where your centerback is and where your line is. If you’re not in sync, you can accidentally keep a player onside that leads to a goal scoring opportunity, or leave spaces behind you exposed.
On the offensive side, Reynolds was phenomenal. He attacked with poise, patience, intensity and confidence. Reynolds routinely got behind the Houston defense and had the composure to slide the ball across the face of goal rather than just smash it and hope for the best (aka the Michael Barrios method).
Defensively Reynolds still has room for improvement, but as long as he still has his legs, he can get away thanks to his insane recovery speed.
There’s going to be so much joy watching these two “new” FC Dallas players the rest of the season. Ricaurte’s vision and passing range will unleash Reynold’s more, and more overlapping runs from Reynolds is going to be a beautiful thing to watch tactically for FC Dallas.