There wasn’t much in term of positives to take from D.C. United’s match against FC Dallas, despite missing several starters due to national team commitments the visitors got an impressive 3-0 road win. As for the home side, another disappointing loss as they try to adjust to the new style of play with the new pieces. It was a good display of depth for FC Dallas with several players stepping up in the absence of others. Michael Barrios led the charge by scoring two of the team’s three goals of the day. For the home side, they’re still in search of their first win this season.
All three of the goals for FC Dallas had something in common, that being they were scored in transition. The Black-and-Red got caught after losing the ball transitioning from defense to attacking. In several of those situations, Taylor Kemp and Kofi Opare were left to guard two attackers deep in the attacking third for the visiting team. The first goal came as Opare and Kemp both went to play the same ball and collided, neither called the other off and Barrios was there to take advantage of the blunder, beating Travis Worra rather easily.
The second tally was similar minus the collision, Bobby Boswell had drifted up field to assist in the attack and in his attempt to get back, the centre back ended up on the flank which opened a lane in the center of the box. Maximiliano Urruti played a great thru ball to the running Barrios. Both Boswell and Sarvas were trailing the play, leaving Opare to come over and make the play. He couldn’t get from the other side of the box in time and Barrios was able to slip in and place a shot before the charging Worra could close.
They style that D.C. United wants to play involves a ton of high pressure, which means they have to get back if dispossessed. While both full backs are prone to join the attack on the flanks, it’s imperative that both centre backs and at least one of the central midfielders are in a position to get back to slow any possible counters by their opponents. To this point in the season, the Black-and-Red are struggling with that last part mightily. While it’s great to push up and join the attack, you can’t get too far forward to where you can’t get back.
That was one of the trends on the day and the reason for why the third score happened. Urruti found himself in the box with Kemp on him and collected the well placed service, before beating Worra to the far post. After getting dispossessed, the Black-and-Red were scrambling to get back. Boswell was trailing the play, Opare was defending the FC Dallas player out wide, which left the left back (Kemp) to play centre back in this scenario. FC Dallas did a good job by making D.C. United pay for their errors in transition.
As for the attacking side of things for the home side, there were a few opportunities. More often than not there were opportunities that were available that went unnoticed or weren’t used. Patrick Nyarko continues to show how dangerous he can be out wide, but the team hasn’t been able to utilize Neagle correctly on the opposite flank. There were many times during the game in which the defense would win the ball and clear it into midfield, on several of those occasions Neagle was available out wide for a short outlet. There wasn’t anything but green grass in front of him, but the ball never found it’s way there.
The attack works best when there are limited touches by all parties, when the ball does the work D.C. United’s attack looks good. They obviously have to capitalize on these opportunities, but it’s night and day the quality of chances that are created when the ball is moving versus any one player taking multiple touches when on the ball.
Nyarko drew a few set pieces in which D.C. United couldn’t capitalize and Franklin was taken down in the box. Espindola took the penalty kick and it was saved by Chris Seitz. There was also an instance in which Patrick beat three defenders inside the box and was abruptly taken down, to which no call was made. It could have been the home team’s second penalty kick of the match. Nick DeLeon got a couple of great opportunities in the box as well, one of which he rushed a volley when he may have had time to take an extra touch. There’s flashes of what could be, but it’s very obvious that everyone is still trying to get used to each other.
Again, there’s no reason to panic as it’s very early in the season, but this team has to fully embrace the new style of play. Talking with a few players after the game, they expected early growing pains and haven’t lost any confidence in what type of team they can become.