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What we learned against Sporting Kansas City: New opportunities in the midfield

Will Brandon Servania or Tanner Tessman find a home in the midfield?

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting Kansas City Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City traded blows Wednesday night. After the dust settled, the score stood 1-1 with neither side able to overcome the other, or perhaps more truthfully—overcome themselves. After stealing an early goal with a strong press, Dallas did their best to stave off the SKC attack by blocking fourteen shots and making 28 clearances. It wasn’t pretty, but a road point will do for FCD right now.

Midfield changes

Brandon Servania got the start this week and news broke that Paxton Pomykal will be out for six months. Andres Ricaurte made the game day eighteen and Tanner Tessman saw extended minutes after Bryan Acosta picked up an injury in the first half. The crowded Dallas midfield just thinned out. If Acosta is going to see extended time out, then it’s going to be between Tessman and Servania to slot in and neither impressed this game.

Servania found himself in card trouble early and could have been sent off, while Tessman never really linked up with the rest of the team the way he needed to. Servania seems to have the inside track, but with Dallas’ intense schedule the next few weeks, both are going to get a good share of shots. If neither make themselves indispensable, Ricaurte looks to be the preferred third midfielder and it’s just a matter of time that he’s given the spot based on pedigree alone. The key for Tessman and Servania is going to be their offensive efforts. We’ve seen more of Servania and he’s got a knack for intelligent, late arriving runs while Tessman hasn’t been given the same positional freedom. Neither, however, have seen time alongside Thiago Santos and any positional miscues could sink either player’s starting aspirations. Dallas cannot afford to sieve goals right now and that’s why I think Servania has edge here as the more experienced player that shares a similar skill set to Acosta.

Fafa and Jesus

This game needed Fafa Picault more than any other FCD player. The strong early press, the open second half, and dependence upon counter attacking greatly favored his talents over Jesus Ferreira on the left. You have to think that if Dallas are going to stick with similar tactics that Picault is going to be the starter on the left.

Four years into his FCD career and I still have no idea where to stick Jesus. He’s been played on the wing, as a midfielder, as a striker, and he’s never been at home anywhere. You could say he’s an offensive Ryan Hollingshead and he is in the fact that he’s played a lot of positions, but he tends to get lost. Occasionally there are flashes of brilliance that show why he’s been afforded so many chances—nice turns, clever passes, great runs, but most games he really doesn’t factor for the majority of it. I don’t want to be too harsh on a developing homegrown, but can Dallas afford to keep him in the XI?

Going forward

As Dallas have ventured further from a possession-based 5-3-2, they’ve seen more success. Will Luchi drop his philosophy to stick with what works? Dallas downright suffocated SKC in the opening minutes with a stifling press. If FCD can strategically transition between a high block and absorbing pressure to hit on the counter, this team can compete. It boils down to emphasizing their two strengths—pressing and countering. Maybe those change if Ricaurte comes in and balls out, but until then, it works in Dallas’ favor to keep things simple.

  • Who’s a better fit in the midfield, Servania or Tessman?
  • Is FCD getting enough production out of Jesus Ferreira?
  • Is dropping Luchi-ball best in the short-term?