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Three takeaways from FC Dallas drawing the San Jose Earthquakes

Clinching the playoff spot was good but there wasn’t much else in this one.

MLS: FC Dallas at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas picked up a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening, clinching a playoff spot in the process for first-year manager Nico Estevez.

While the game wasn’t really that much to go off of since San Jose was already eliminated from playoff contention, there were a few things to take note of from the playoff clinching draw.

The spot clinched

Let’s discuss the important factor in this one, FC Dallas is going back to the playoffs despite the so-so effort on the field Saturday night. Estevez was proud of his team’s effort on the night, as they showed they can go to a tough environment and come away with a result.

“We are happy to have achieved one of the goals we had set at the beginning of the season,” said Estevez following the match. “Today’s match reflected that playing anywhere in this league can be difficult. There have been teams that struggled on the road and it benefited us. The work and achievements that this club has done is difficult and the players should feel very proud. I am very proud of all of the hard work and perseverance that this team showed throughout the match today. Being able to come away with a point that secured playoffs is something we will defend and hold with everything we got.”

I mean, yeah, they should feel proud about this result. San Jose isn’t a great team but they are a frustrating team that can cause issues for anyone in this league. Just ask LAFC, who came away with a loss at San Jose just a few weeks ago.

Still, the effort on the night was a bit all over the place for FC Dallas. Not having Jesus Ferreira from the start was part of that issue. He came into this match feeling unwell according to the broadcast, but he did appear off the bench late in the late. His arrival on the field didn’t exactly spark anything in the attack as they struggled to get shots off (only nine total, with just three on target). In a way, this one always felt like they were going for the draw more than anything else.

San Jose causes chaos

As I mentioned above, San Jose isn’t a great team but they really do frustrate the living crap out of anyone they play. Their attack is young and energetic with Homegrown players Cade Cowell and Benjamin Kikanovic to go along with the ever-dangerous Jeremy Ebobisse. If you are able to get through their attacking line and find the holes in their midfield, they are fairly easy to break down. Dallas did that a few weeks back in Frisco when they blew them out 4-1. Last night, that wasn't the case.

What we saw was more possession in the Dallas defensive end with Jose Martinez, Marco Farfan, Nkosi Tafari, Edwin Cerrillo, and Ema Twumasi under constant pressure. This caused Sebastian Lletget and Paxton Pomykal to be pulled back more into the defense and with Ferreira not in the lineup, Franco Jara also had to sit back more. Jara as we all know isn’t the right guy to go 90 minutes in a sprint like this game was going to be.

It wasn’t really until the second half that we saw Dallas control more of the pace of the game. But even with the added possession, the chances on goal didn’t really come. Only Arriola had attempts on goal in the second half and none of them came after the 60th minute. That isn’t exactly something you want from your team for 30 minutes on the road.

Speaking of Arriola, the late red card is a huge hit. If Alan Velasco isn’t fit enough to go in a couple of weeks, we may see Estevez have to really dip into his reserves to fill the void of Arriola’s suspension. Maybe more Bernard Kamungo? That may all depend on if he’s still being used by North Texas SC and their playoff run too.

Now to secure home field advantage

FC Dallas has two games left and continues to control their own fate. They sit five points back of Austin for second place and have a three-point gap over Nashville at the moment for third place.

“The best way to prepare for the playoffs is to train and play hard every single time,” said Estevez. “We will always prepare to the best of our abilities. We have other goals other than just getting to the playoffs and we will work our hardest to preserve that third place spot. These last two games will be very crucial as we prepare for the playoffs.”

Honestly, I don’t see this team catching Austin with two games left but I do think they’ll remain in third with the final two opponents being Colorado and Kansas City. Colorado still has a tiny bit of hope in their playoff chances but given that they don’t have any games in hand with the teams they are chasing above them, they’ll likely be eliminated from contention (like Sporting was this weekend) by the time we see them in a couple of weeks.

The international break is coming up though and Dallas has to find a way to not come out flat as they did in June following that break from play. Thankfully, they do have a late-season friendly with Tigres UNAL to help keep the roster fresh while Arriola and Ferreira are away on national team duty in Europe.