On Saturday, March 12, FC Dallas finally turned things around with a 2-0 win over Nashville SC.
It was the Argentinians who stole the show as Franco Jara tucked away the late, game-winning penalty. Soon after, Alan Velasco, the team’s new 19-year-old prospect, exceeded expectations with a 50-yard run and wonder-goal to mark his debut with the club.
A few more adjustments to Nico Estévez’s system was just what the team needed, as they were able to dominate Nashville for the full 90 minutes. A tactical shift that dropped midfielder Paxton Pomykal further back on defense allowed for players like Marco Farfan and Brandon Servania to push further upfield. A move that opened up passing opportunities in the final third.
From there, however, Dallas’s attackers continued to struggle, in spite of Jáder OBrien, Jesus Ferreira, and Servania having great first-half opportunities, the team still struggled to score.
I believe attackers Paul Arriola and Velasco will be the combination that clicks come next week against a Portland Timbers side that just shut out the league’s highest-scoring team, Austin FC. Arriola looked aggressive all game, eventually earning the late-game penalty for Dallas. Velasco as well, looked comfortable finding open space and being aggressive with the ball at his feet. The team was right to transition him in slowly.
Also during the game, Nashville attacker C.J. Sapong and Dallas center back José Martinez seemed to be repeatedly fighting and fouling one another throughout the first half. It’s unknown as to whether Martinez nicked something at this time, but he went down easy later in the game and came off with what looks to be a minor injury.
Martinez and fellow center back Matt Hedges put in a fantastic shift defensively, one that did well to frustrate Nashville’s attack. Hany Mukhtar had a goal taken away after Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes was fouled in pursuit of the ball. Sapong also picked up a yellow card for his scrap with Martinez, and midfielder Anibal Godoy would’ve likely seen his second yellow for a two-footed tackle in the 93rd minute, had the game not already been put away.
On top of everything else, it seems an injury substitution for Dax McCarty was the final blow for Nashville. Their team currently looked like a shell of what it was last season.
Aside from a great first win, It’s a shame Dallas’s defense wasn’t tested more, as we still haven’t seen much of what goalkeeper Paes is capable of. That said, the team can not only celebrate their first clean sheet of the season but an outstanding new player in Velasco, whom I’d be surprised to not see in the starting lineup come next week.