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Scouting Report: FC Dallas, Round 3

How does FCD match up with MNUFC? Well here’s how.

MLS: FC Dallas at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas Attack

The player that seems to garner the most eyeballs is Michael Barrios. The diminutive, yet speedy, left winger has a low center of gravity to stay on his feet when cutting through the legs of an opponent’s defense. He has been fun to watch and hard to ignore.

The ultimate measure is goals and assists for a player of this position and Barrios has posted a precipitous decline in 2020. In 2019, Barrios posted five goals and a torrid 15 assists. In 2020, he has one goal - a header from a right winger’s lofted pass and only three assists. Supporters of FC Dallas debate weekly if Barrios is declining or merely in a slump.

The big signing in 2020 for the team is Franco Jara and he has stepped in as the team’s top scorer. After scoring five goals so far this season, he’s a man to mark closely. He has demonstrated a nose for the ball and to be in the right place to score in the 6-yard box. Watch for him to be cloaked by MNUFC’s best defenders on set pieces.

On the sideline with injury is Santiago Mosquera who is the team’s second-most prolific scorer with four goals; three coming in a hat trick against Colorado. It’s safe to say the team misses his presence on the pitch.

Dallas professes to enjoy a open field, free-flowing style of football. Early in the season, head coach Luchi Gonzalez shared, “In the two games we made more than a thousand passes, and that’s a clear part of our playing philosophy, that we want to dominate possession.”

However, FC Dallas’ offense lacks bite. They have demonstrated they struggle with a low-block defense in the form of the Columbus Crew. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez has not demonstrated his ability to shift tactics when faced with this challenge.

FC Dallas can have some comfort that they average 1.67 goals per game at home vs. .67 per game away.

Head to Head - No Advantage

Unless MNUFC posts a taut defensive strategy with their classic counter-attack pounce on mistakes, Dallas has the advantage simply by being home. Allowing for an open field will result in a high scoring game for both and could favor Dallas.

FC Dallas Defense

An erratic defense in keeping a lead seem to be FC Dallas’ Achilles heel lately. They are conceding goals late in games more and more as the season progresses.

In the last game between these two teams, Gonzalez experimented with a 3-4-3 formation, perhaps due to injuries, and it backfired quickly. The team sits 19th out of 26 teams in the MLS in goals conceded.

However, the defense at home has been what has kept the Toros in the playoff chase. Goals conceded at home is 0.87 goals per game and 1.5 goals per game when away. Their home record is their lifeline and they are likely to remember than after coming home after Thursday’s 0-2 loss to a 10-man Houston Dynamo team.

Head to Head - FC Dallas Advantage

Minnesota United needs to score early against this defense with any hope for three points. A high press on FC Dallas will certainly yield goals, but will open up chances for Dallas’ own offense. Heath has some big decisions on tactics on Sunday.

Overall

In regards to momentum, both teams have posted the same identical record over the last eight games. Looking closer at the last two games, Minnesota has some positive mojo from riding Dayne St Clair’s 290 minutes of opponents firing blanks. The Loons’ poor run in late August is now a distant memory.

Dallas has a 0-2-2 record these last four games. They are slumping and it could be due to team depth. They lost to a 10-man team on Thursday and have to lace up only three days later. If there is a team weakened and licking their wounds, it’s FC Dallas.

Head to Head - Minnesota United Advantage

Minnesota United’s momentum will only be blunted by their inability to win on the road. A draw is an expected result, and for Dallas FC, it will feel like a loss.