FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas drew the New England Revolution 1-1 Saturday in what was in some people’s eyes a disappointing match.
Dallas did not look like a threat for periods of the match, and it cost them on Carles Gil’s goal for the Revs in the 57th minute. Pressure piled up on the team and it finally broke, resulting in the game-tying goal.
For those who watched preseason with a very close eye, it may be a poor result. Dallas was supposed to be a team dominating possession, pressing to win the ball back and pinning their opponents deep. Fans were treated to a team that struggled to break down the Revolution’s lower block and couldn’t play through the middle. Some chances were created late, but it was too little, too late.
Coach Luchi Gonzalez mentioned in his postgame presser the team completed more than 600 passes but could not find the final touch to secure all three points.
Welcome to life under a new coach.
New coaches went 1-4-2 in their debuts for their respective teams Saturday. Guillermo Barros Schelotto was the lone winner with the Galaxy’s 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire. Before joining the Galaxy, Schelotto had just recently taken his team to the Copa Libertadores final and he’s had a history of success in Argentina with Boca Juniors.
Gonzalez’s principles are on par with modern football; he wants the ball at all times and wants to push players forward, as evidenced by how high the fullbacks were up the pitch. Instead of playing the ball up the pitch, Gonzalez wants to build from the back and encourages his goalkeepers to play with their feet. These aren’t principles mastered overnight, so it may not be a pretty process to see this FC Dallas team develop.
Dallas’ preseason was a success. The team defeated Bayern Munich’s U-23s 4-0 and won the Mini Sun Cup preseason tournament, beating out the Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls. While victories over those teams sound impressive, taking a deeper dive into who Dallas actually played is worth a talking point. Gonzalez spoke about this Monday after training when reflecting on the match.
“You look at our preseason and it was a good preseason, but in reflection, we only played one first team, which was Seattle,” Gonzalez said. “They really tested us. That was a hard game. The other games were good games for us but, this was the second game we’ve played against a first-team group. It had a preseason feel to it. In terms of being challenged and having a defensive mid-block unit like New England had and trying to break that down. It was a good challenge. That’s the test that we want.”
Real Salt Lake played three players (Nick Rimando, Nedum Onuoha and Joao Plata) who started in its opening 1-1 draw against Houston. The New York Red Bulls had their Concacaf Champions League match against Atletico Pantoja the day of its match against FCD, so none of the first team was in Tucson, Ariz.
If FC Dallas wants to dictate possession, teams will sit back, absorb and attempt to hit the team on the counter. Just ask Atlanta United in 2018. The team dictated the ball at home, but would come back frustrated when the opponent bunkered and made life difficult for them. Atlanta adjusted to a more direct style in the playoffs, which resulted in an MLS Cup. It’s something fans will have to get used to, and something New England did, making it very difficult for Dallas to find the spaces to create opportunities.
FCD had three shots on target and those shots were created on more direct plays. Michael Barrios’ goal was off a longer ball from Reggie Cannon that was flicked on by Dominque Badji. Badji’s shot on target was created on Barrios receiving an outlet from Gruezo and springing a counterattack. The final on-target shot came from Ryan Hollingshead, whose opportunity came from a second ball after a corner kick.
The team will now look toward the Galaxy and eye a win. After that, it’s a trip to Columbus and then a matchup against an interesting Colorado Rapids squad.
The team may not master Gonzalez’s system until later in the season — it may even take a complete season for it to finally come together.
And that’s OK.