FC Dallas 3, Chivas USA 1: 10 Observations

1. Couldn’t Prevent/Stop those Set Pieces: In my preview, I mentioned that CUSA needed to limit their fouls in their defensive end because FCD is the type of team that will make you pay with set pieces. Unfortunately, it only took CUSA a minute and a half to give Dallas their first set piece. CUSA committed 8 fouls in their area and it resulted in 2 of FCD’s 3 goals. Marky Delgado looked a bit out of place and chasing on a number of occasions, giving up 2 free kicks in a span of 3 minutes (the second of which lead to Michel’s free kick goal).

Wilmer Cabrera on set pieces:

“When you make those mistakes on set pieces and in concentration, you don’t deserve [points]. You have to get punished in order for us to improve. We’ve been working on set pieces, but we lost concentration and got punished.”

Five of FCD’s seven set piece goals have come from dead ball situations.

2. Zavaleta’s Defense: It was definitely a surprise seeing 21 year old Eriq Zavaleta filling in for Bobby Burling at CB. Listed as a hybrid forward/defender, Zavaleta played a bit of defense for Wilmer Cabrera while with the US U17 squad. Overall, he did an decent job against FCD, but did have a few mistakes.  Zavaleta had a tendency to gamble on defense, leaving a lot of pressure on those around him to clean up his mistakes. He also had a tendency to instantly clear balls out of the area which can be effective in resetting the defense and provide a bit of breathing room, but he’s just giving possession back to the FCD attack. As a result, Zavaleta didnt make too may short pass attempts and finished the game completing just 54% of his passes. On the positive,He did a remarkable job of containing Fabian Castillo’s cuts into the middle and didn not resort to needless fouling. He finished the game with zero fouls in his first appearance. Bravo.

3. The DM Carousel: With Agustin Pelletieri sitting this one out due to last week’s red card, this was the first game where MindaTieri was not part of the starting lineup. Minda put in a good effort stopping the FCD midfield attack, but right before halftime, he had to come out due to injury and instead of going with Fragoso, Cabrera decided to go with Delgado. Aside from Marky’s fouling troubles in the defensive end, he also fell victim to the same bad heavy touch that hurt Fragoso in game one, leading to an FCD goal. For as much as McMullet is doing a decent job filling in as a defensive midfielder, he is by no means someone you want out there on a regular basis. Aside from his game high 4 fouls and sketchy marking,  his offensive ability is desperately needed and I don’t recommend using him as a DM any longer. With Minda likely out indefinitely and Pelletieri returning for week 4, I’d rather start Fragoso there and move McMullet back to the top.

4.Minda’s Hammy: Right before halftime, Oswaldo Minda gave the signal that he needed to be subbed out. When players go down on without contact, it’s usually bad news and a sign of structural damage. I remember Minda battling hamstring issues in the past, so my biggest fear is if it’s a recurring/chronic injury that could pester him for the season. He was able to walk off on his own so I doubt it’s a tear (knock on wood). What’s certain is that Minda is the heart and soul of this team and his absence, however long, will be a huge loss for CUSA’s defense.

5.Luke Moore: Sure, this was a tough game for CUSA forwards to find opportunities since the defensive game plan didn’t allow for them to shine. Luke Moore just didn’t see the ball enough to have an influence on the game. He had a few decent flick ons but for the most part just slowed the counters down with his lateral movements, indecision, or errant shots. As a poacher who needs creativity around him, Moore had difficulty assisting the attack in this counter-attacking game plan. It’s still early, but it’s becoming evident why he was so unproductive while in Turkey.

6.CUSA Got Countered to Death: It’s a bit odd that the team that came out with the intent of countering (CUSA), ended up getting countered to death. With such a high backline and sub par passing in the attacking third, FCD was able to pick apart CUSA with quick counters of their own. This caused the highline to backtrack, and midfielders to chase and foul attackers in space – leading to goal scoring opportunities or dangerous set pieces.

7.Backline Organized, Yet Vulnerable: The defense held their formation nicely. The backline drew 7 offsides and held on for 70 minutes without a goal and cleaned up nicely for each other. That being said FCD thoroughly outplayed CUSA and with the amount of chances they were getting were bound to score before the game was over.

8.It Was a Physical Game: Any game that features destroyers like Hendry Thomas and Oswaldo Minda in the middle is bound to get physical. Add in the ferocity of Tommy McNamara and you have a game that included 38 fouls, 7 yellows, and 1 red. Thomas was sent off for a hard challenge on Bofo, but that was long overdue since, he probably deserved a 4 or 5 yellow cards (or 2 reds). So with Moffat going down early to injury early, Jacobson getting carted off due to getting his ankle stepped on by McNamara (hope he gets well soon, that looked rough), Minda tweaking his hammy, and Thomas getting that red, that’s 4 defensive mids that had to leave the field at some point.

9. Can’t Always Beat Adversity: Last week we saw CUSA tough it out and play counter ball for 80 minutes with only 10 men. This time around, the game plan appeared similar except we had 11 men on the field. Despite being outplayed for the entire game, the team managed to hold FCD scoreless for 70 minutes before letting in 3 goals in the next 15 minutes. Despite going down 2 goals, they did manage to score against the run of play and had a few opportunities to tie the score at 2, but leaving Dallas with a result wasn’t in the books. CUSA can’t depend on any heroics for a 34 game season and must start playing smarter ball in order to win games consistently.

10. Fabian Castillo’s good. Really good. My god this guy can fly. His speed and technical ability was giving CUSA fits all over the field and was absolutely dangerous in and around the box. He’s especially effective when he cuts into the center of the field causing defenders to over-commit, leaving others unmarked. CUSA’s inability to close down Diaz (who had an incredibly healthy 76 touches) opened up the game for Castillo. Considering CUSA’s DM carousel, taking Diaz and Castillo’s influence out of the game was gonna be an uphill battle to begin with.

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