FC Dallas faced a near-impossible battle to take on Toronto FC in their newly-renovated home. The Reds were defending their fortress for the first time this season and just about everyone was in agreement. Toronto’s defense combining with the ever elusive Sebastian Giovinco, would be too much for a sputter FC Dallas to overcome.
They were right. Dallas was unable to break down the Toronto defense and Giovinco was yet again the catalyst.
But it should not be all doom and gloom in Dallas. As a young team, they have shown to be prone to the occasional lapse. Losing 4-0 to a red hot New York Red Bulls in New York isn’t a debilitating result. Nor is going into Toronto and losing 1-0. The Vancouver match was a bit unfortunate, but that’s a topic for another day.
This match against Toronto was actually oozing with positives. So much so that there are signs there that this drought is going to turn around soon. Soon enough to have a grand homecoming.
For starters, there is Mauro Diaz. Always pegged as an MVP favorite, Diaz was at his creative best against Toronto. He created four chances on his own and put so many of his team mates in on goal. It took a superb defensive effort – something Toronto have been known to provide, to keep Dallas out.
So then what went wrong? How did FC Dallas, in all of their boundless athleticism, get completely stifled by Toronto when Mauro Diaz was at his best?
It’s never an easy answer, but I believe it’s a combination of things, and Oscar Pareja has everything he needs to turn this drought on its head.
For starters, there’s Maximiliano Urruti. Urruti hasn’t scored a goal in seven matches. That is something that can turn around with better service, which he is having trouble finding as the lone front man. He only tallied 20 touches against Toronto, allowing him just one shot.
The solution could be finding more space for Urruti. But is there an easier way to do this than revolutionizing the game plan?
History would tell us there is. Recent history, that is. Urruti grabbed himself two man of the match performances this year. Against Montreal and against DC United. Not easy games by any means. Not surprisingly, Diaz also had fantastic matches in those games – as did most of the offense.
The first really poor match that Urruti had came against the Whitecaps, where Diaz wasn’t present. However, we can’t attribute Urruti’s ineffectiveness to Diaz’s short absence. It’s too inconclusive.
What is conclusive are the formation changes that Dallas have enacted. In Urruti’s best days, it was in the ever-stable and reliable 4-2-3-1, where Diaz was the center of the offense and had very little responsibility on the defensive end. The base midfielders, Gruezo and Ulloa, could push the attack up from the back.
The bad results started when the formation changed. Against Vancouver, they used a 4-4-2 with no Diaz. Against Toronto, it was a 4-3-3, with too much placed on Diaz’s shoulders.
The only anomaly is New York, where that same 4-2-3-1 was demolished by the Red Bulls 4-0. However, that is explainable as a one-off destruction. Dallas was in a dry spell, Diaz was just returning, and a frustrated Red Bulls had finally clicked. It was just a straight up over-matching.
Changing it up again seemed to serve little purpose. Stability was always going to be needed in the midfield to disrupt Toronto but Oscar Pareja opted for the 4-3-3.
The 4-3-3 has been proven ineffective for Sporting Kansas City as well, as it seems to hinder an otherwise-creative midfield’s creativity. Switching things back to the way they were and sticking with it looks to be the simplest solution for Urruti and Diaz to get back on the same page and turn this drought around.