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FC Dallas optimistic with performances despite dropping points

FC Dallas is looking to balance its strong performances in a possession-based style with earning critical points, both home and on the road

Mar 30, 2019; Sandy, UT, USA; FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez directs his players during the first half against the Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)

FRISCO, Tx. — FC Dallas continued its struggle of pairing strong performances with maximum points after a 1-0 loss to Minnesota United July 13.

In the match, there were spells where Dallas dominated the match, having over 60 percent of the ball and forcing Minnesota to play deeper. The showing was strong especially for an MLS road match, where teams often change their style to cope with the difficulty of playing away. 

Gonzalez sensed the game was within reach and did not go defensive, instead subbing on winger Edwin Gyasi and forward Jesus Ferreira to make offensive impacts on the match. It’s a bold move on the road, where other teams may park the bus, content for the point.

However, a lapse led to Mason Toye scoring the game’s only game in stoppage time, breaking Dallas’ heart once again. In a crucial match for the playoffs, the result was disappointing, but positives were taken out of the match.

“I have to be proud of the direction we’re going in and what our players are trying to do with and without the ball,” coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “I think the ideas are there. I think the intentions and ideas are absolutely there. It’s showing not just in the stats, but in the subjective as well when we break down video and see the spaces we’re taking advantage of and that we’re occupying or that we’re pressing.

“The next step is to master it. It’s not easy. The last detail that’s going to push you over the hump to win against Minnesota away 1-0 rather than lose are now the really fine details that we now need to take the next step in demanding it ourselves as a staff and team in training and show in the training and not just talk about it and say let’s train it, let’s dissect it, let’s evolve in it and do it.”

Dallas is showing the team is grasping Gonzalez’s concept of playing modern soccer. Even though the play on the field is positive, the points received from a match, such as the 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps June 26, are disappointing. Balancing the analysis of strong performances in those results are difficult for the team, who are looking to master the long-term concept.

“It’s tough to balance because you walk away from the game upset with not getting any points away, but at the end of the day, you have to reflect and know there were good things to take from a game, especially away against a team that had won, like, five or six straight,” midfielder Paxton Pomykal said. “We took it to them and played really well in their house. There’s two sides of it, but I think the more important side is getting the three points at the end of the day.”

Under former coach Oscar Pareja, Dallas often did not play attractive soccer, but obtained results, such as earning the double in 2016. Gonzalez wants to buck that trend. Under his reign, the team has had 53 percent possession against opponents, including 50 percent on the road compared to 45 percent in 2018. The performance against Atlanta United, a 2-1 victory April 20, was an anomaly, where the team only had 35 percent of the ball. Gonzalez is unafraid of MLS road woes and wants to continue to impose his style, even away.

It’s a bold strategy and may leave some points left to be desired, but is apart of Gonzalez’s long-term vision for the squad, to be a team capable of playing strong. The next step as FCD grows is to gain maximum points in matches, instead of dropping them.

“We’re not going to just start abandoning our way because we just can find a more efficient and basic and simple way to win,” Gonzalez said.
“We’re a club that’s committed to our fans to try to entertain and create and dominate the ball and push games, but we need to recognize that it’s positive. That we are controlling the majority of games. But now? Let’s master it. Let’s take the next step and make it even better. With the roster we have, and over time a roster can have pieces that come in and out, but with the roster we have, let’s make it better.”

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