As FC Dallas seeks to put the most recent debacle in the rearview mirror, we look ahead to Sunday’s game against the New England Revolution. One of Dallas’ two Eastern Conference matchups for the year, the two clubs haven’t met on the pitch since 2019. Currently riding a five-game winning streak, Bruce Arena’s side leads the Eastern Conference with a record of 7-2-1 (the one loss came against Nashville back on May 8th). Like Dallas, the Revs are playing their third game in eight days. If there is a glimmer of hope in this David and Goliath matchup, it may be that the Revs will not only be tired, but hopefully, the heat in Dallas will be more oppressive to them.
New England Recent Results
|5/22||New England||3-1||New York Red Bulls|
|5/29||FC Cincinnati||0-1||New England|
|6/19||New York City FC||2-3||New England|
|6/23||New England||3-2||New York Red Bulls|
The Revs are led by reigning MLS Player of the Week Carles Gil, who leads MLS with 10 assists and 49 key passes. If you haven’t seen him play yet, he’s healthy this season and worth watching. Along with Matt Turner and Andrew Farrell, Gil has played every minute for New England this season and the vast majority of the team’s play goes through him. The leading beneficiaries of his assists are Gustavo Bou (4 goals) and Adam Buksa (4 goals), but overall nine players have put a ball in the back of the net for the Revolution this season.
Look for the Revs to open in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1 depending on personnel. Gustavo Bou started up top for the Revs on Wednesday though Adam Buksa may get a start if Bruce Arena elects to rotate players. Tajon Buchanon (who has been attracting interest from Europe) and Teal Bunbury started most recently on the wings, so there is a strong chance that Dallas could see Tommy McNamara and Arnor Traustason on the outside. But Gil will either sit between the wings at the 10 or he will play behind the striker with the wings pulled back to the midfield.
Screening the defense, Maciel and Matt Polster patrol the midfield and behind them is the ever-steady Andrew Farrell in central defense alongside Jonathan Bell. DeJuan Jones has played the majority of available minutes at left back and Brandon Bye has done the same on the right. And, finally, between the posts, a likely candidate for USMNT Gold Cup starter: Matt Turner.
A few numbers to consider:
|1812||Passes in Opponents’ Half||1379|
|138/53||Shots/Shots on Target||127/41|
|-2.89 (Turner)||G-xG for Keepers||-.82 (Maurer)|
After a standout performance against LA, Jimmy Maurer currently has a -.82 score for Goals - Expected Goals according to American Soccer Analysis. Quite simply, after recovering from an earlier injury, Maurer is getting his job done - which is why the final score on Wednesday was less horrific than the game itself. However, Maurer’s score makes Matt Turner’s -2.89 all the more impressive. Turner has led MLS goalkeepers in this category over the past few years. At the other end of the pitch, the Revs are nearly doubling Dallas’ goal production, and their possession in the offensive half is far superior (which, y’know, leads to seventeen goals on the season).
Keys to the Match:
1) I’m ignoring New England for the moment. Dallas needs to play in a 4-3-3: the formation that the team is most familiar with and that best enables the team to have success. We’re struggling. Let’s not overcomplicate our tactics. We should play our rather first rather than react to their game. Let’s play Ryan on the left. Tessman at the eight. And then Pomykal – Ferreira – Pepi across the top. Nothing to lose. We are not expected to win this game. If we’re going to place Justin Che in the shop window as Buzz Carrick suggested over at 3rd Degree, let’s play him at his best position - center back. Oh, and I want to see Thomas Roberts – I hope he has the fire in his belly to play with the tenacity we didn’t have. And play Jimmy Maurer. And then give him more money.
2) Do you remember that moment when you were watching Wednesday night’s game against LAFC and you thought to yourself, “We look like we don’t know what to do or where to pass the ball”? New England doesn’t look that way. The Couva Catastrophe aside, Bruce Arena is a great coach and his players know their roles. Their game plan is relatively simple: Get the ball to Carles Gil. He will then pass to players in good positions to score. This means containing Gil must be a priority.
3) The Revs first goal on Wednesday night came from a turnover caused by their high press. We know that Obrian is fast and New England’s outside backs like to get forward. I don’t want to diminish Maurer’s passing percentage, but a few balls over the top might slow that press (assuming Obrian can hold onto the ball).
That’s my two cents, friends. Knock on wood. Toss a pinch of salt over your shoulder. Rub that rabbit’s foot. Whatever you can think of. We need some mojo.