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What we learned in FC Dallas’ 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes

There was some good, but there was a whole lotta bad in this game for Luchi Gonzalez.

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s performance for FC Dallas in their 3-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes may be an early-season wake-up call for the team. There were periods where Luchi Gonzalez’s club looked decent, created chances and was dangerous but there were a lot of spells in the game that saw them on their heels, behind the ball and chasing the game.

At the end of the day, this is a game that we can take a lot of away from as we build on this new season. It is early after all, and this is a marathon. We can get worked up over the result but a new game will be right around the corner for us to watch this coming weekend.

Oh boy, that formation

Yeah, let’s start here. I know we all hate this new 3-4-3, or 5-2-3 kind of look. I don’t like it for a number of reasons. I know it is making most of you question Gonzalez and his ability as a head coach too.

Let’s start with the basics here, the Quakes have a decent offense but not a world-beater either. This kind of formation actually puts a little more emphasis on the defense with five defenders on the field, plus those in the midfield. On this day, we had two #8s in the midfield in Tanner Tessmann and Bryan Acosta. Both looked really out of their depth in this formation against San Jose and because of that, it showed even more so in the attack.

Speaking of the attack, this formation does require a little more energy up front. Jader Obiren and Freddy Vargas do look like good MLS players to me but they are still getting used to their new teammates, this formation and MLS as a whole. That just takes a bit of time for young guys like this who are new to almost everything here.

And then there is Franco Jara. In a small way, I want this to work with him. I do. But yesterday was another spot that just proved to us all that he does not fit this group well enough right now to be a day-in and day-out starter for this team. Gonzalez needs a ton of energy up top, like a Maxi Urruti or a Blas Perez. Jara is not that. He also needs more service around the penalty box to be himself and in this look, he just does not get that as well.

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The missing link in the midfield

Two games down and I think it is safe to say that FC Dallas misses a guy like Thiago Santos. I know I said that was a good bit of business on their part to sell him earlier this spring but so far that deal is coming back to bite them a bit on the field. FCD misses that bite, that grit, that guy that gets into challenges and keeps the pressure off the backline. I like Tessmann, but he’s really not that guy. Acosta isn’t that guy either.

Maybe it is time for Gonzalez to really pull out a gambling-type move and start Edwin Cerrillo. He raved over his preseason in this role and if there is ever a moment to give him a chance to be that guy at the #6, it is now.

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Youngsters make a difference

Watching this game, down 3-0, Gonzalez finally goes to his bench in a big way. We all knew the moment that Ricardo Pepi, Paxton Pomykal and even Eddie Munjoma (!) got on the field that things would change. And they did for the most part. Dallas went from chasing the game to gaining some sort of stability on the ball in the midfield against a tough man-marking bunch in San Jose. Unfortunately, as we know by now, it was too little too late.

In our Big D Soccer group chat during the game, a lot of us said that we felt had Jesus Ferreira not picked up a knock right before the season opener last week that we might be in a different spot with him and Pepi. I fully believe that Ferreira would have made a massive difference in this game in a way that would have opened up the attack even more late in the game. But, again, we have to wait on seeing such a thing.

Still, this game called for youth and once they were finally out on the field it proved to be the difference for FCD. Instead of getting blown out 3-0, they walked away with a goal and something to build on for their next game against Portland.