Tactical Analysis: FC Dallas at Houston

I’ve gotta be honest here. I’m not entirely sure what the game plan was for FC Dallas on Friday night in Houston, but I am sure that the only thing that worked out well against the Dynamo was the defense not giving up a goal. Poor execution, out game-planned, and questionable personnel choices made it hard to really understand what the goal was in this leg of the Texas Derby.

I Said It, I Meant It

At some point in the match, I tweeted “So far, it’s looking like my tactics article for this game will just be highlights of Matt Hedges defending” So here’s a few clips of Matt Hedges doing sly, understated, g.o.a.t.-y things on the night he passed Jason Kreis on the FC Dallas all-time appearance list.

Switching It Up

But seriously, the only thing I took away from the first half was an increase in long horizontal balls (switches and diagonals) farther up the field. Rather than methodically attempting to switch the field by playing short passes along their defense, FC Dallas attempted to find space by working the ball down the sidelines and then having the opposite fullback run into the space vacated by shifting Houston midfielders. The Defensive Mids were also looking for the runs into this space, if it was there when the team gained possession.

Dynamic Substitutes

We all saw the difference that subbing on Fafa Picault, Brandon Servania, and Paxton Pomykal made in the match, and there two reasons. 

Firstly, fresh legs. Fafa is likely the fastest player on the team barring Mikey Barrios, and Paxton is known for his relentless determination to get the ball forward. This combination created issues for Tab Ramos’ side which only made one substitution the entire night (and not until the 83’ at that).

Secondly, quick decisive passing. Whether it was something Luchi adjusted or whether that’s just how these players prefer to play, the result was a much more quick and decisive buildup. FC Dallas looked as if instead of “thinking about it” and waiting for other players to get into space, they played “one-touch” soccer and played the ball into the space their teammates were headed to.

Defensive Worries

This is the 3rd match in a row that Luchi Gonzalez has set up with a double pivot of Thiago Santos and Bryan Acosta in front of the defense. I’ve said it a few times now, but this pairing is a bit problematic. There’s still not enough of an understanding between the two of them on who needs to cover the space in front of the back line, and when. Several times (again) the defense was left out on an island with dangerous opposition players having nothing but time and space to pick an attacking vector.

We can only hope that this pairing start working together better in the very near future, or sooner-or-later an opponent will make them pay.

Quick Play, Quick Turnaround

Luchi Gonzalez might not have much time between the next few matches to fully game-plan or script his side, and that might be a good thing. Now that the team has a few matches of experience implementing the tools that he wants, I would love to let the team loose on Wednesday against Colorado.