Galaxy took a trip to Dallas to meet the Dallas FC. The home side suffered the first loss in this season against the NYCFC  and drawn with Los Angeles FC in the last two round. Galaxy with Ibrahimovic on board also in a bad mood. They loss 3-2 both against Red New York Red Bull and Dynamo Houston. (Interestingly, the same result against Dallas FC) 

Home side’s issues at the build-up 

The guests started their pressing movement in a 4-4-1-1 shape, Ibrahimovic at the top. He mostly stayed in a middle, in a static position and put just a little energy to shifting slightly to the ball-side. A bit deeper Alessandrini also positioned in the middle, but with a much more intense defensive or pressing manner. With this two men in the middle in order to protect that area, they could force the opponent in the flanks and the half spaces. 

Dallas usually progresses through the left half space, which is a good spot to reach higher midfield areas. So, in order to the centre remain inaccessible the pressing team’s forwards line have to shift properly to cover the centre. In this match, only Alessandrini adjust his position to block the middle of the pitch, Zlatan stayed in his position. 

However, the man-oriented manner that Galaxy midfielders used, they managed to cover the passing options, therefore Dallas without clear passing option was forced to use lofted passes or long balls towards the further team-mates. These lower percentage passes gave the opportunity for Galaxy to recover the ball. 

The biggest problem in the build-up that Dallas midfielders did not adjust their position to provide a good passing option. In lots of cases, they stayed in centrally, thus they were out of this phase. Dallas should manage to progress much better way with a better positioning and movements. 

Dallas pressing in a 4-4-2 

Diaz joins to Urruti for the pressing phase, thus they formed a 4-4-2 shape. While the ball was on left CB, Skjelvik Urruti moves towards him and pressed him. During this, Diaz marked tightly the Dos Santos. When the ball moves to the other CB, to Ciani, the two Dallas players switch their task, which means, Urruti stayed close the centre-midfielder and Diaz stepped up to press the ball-carrier. 

In order to cut off any route the wingers also positioned in close distances to Steres and A. Cole (the fullbacks). In this scheme, the aim was to force the opponent too long balls or volleys or even give up the ball. However, in one or two situations the guests make a really good way beat this press. Ciani and Skjelvik moved to the half spaces to stretching the shape and the field. And also makes harder to put pressure on them. With this, they managed to drag at least one of the Dallas forwards out of the centre and open space for the CMs. In these situations, Dos Santos drops between the two Dallas players for getting the ball from the goalkeeper. This was a viable way to progress, but Galaxy only used occasionally. 

Responses 

Guests struggled to find a way in the opponent’s defensive shape. Dallas uses their 4-4-2 against the ball. In this formations, during the defensive phase, the wingers positioned a little bit narrower in order to both limiting the space in the half space with the ball side centre midfielder, and have access to the wings. Thus when the balls reach the wings they can immediately pressure the Galaxy’s players on the wing. Also noticeable, that the strikers had a big role in defending in a compact shape. Because Diaz and Urruti shifting to the ball side to help the defending or just drop to cover the middle. 

Galaxy lack dynamics movements or ability to break the opponent’s defensive shape. They were poor in 1 vs 1 situations, therefore they struggled to make chances.  

Galaxy often attempted to play directly from the back to the forwards. Ibrahimovic or Alessandrini frequently dropped in the half space for these balls. 

On the other hand, in a response to Galaxy’s pressing Dallas often also attempted to directly pass to the 10 space for Diaz. Usually, Ziegler was the more active than Hedges. Thus Ziegler usually progresses in the left half space avoiding the centre. In the first period of the game, this was an issue for the home side, because in these situations the centre-midfielders were out of the play and Ziegler only choice to pass directly to Diaz or the left wing to Nedyalkov. He was in a quite high position, but he failed to get behind the opponent’s defence due to the Galaxy’s ability to close down the wings. Siegfried Schmid’s man defended in a 5-4-1 form, which allowed them to make numerical superiority on the wings. 

Therefore they had to re-circulate to the middle and then switch to the far side to Reggie Cannon. This was an effective pattern to break through and reach the penalty box and play into that with crosses. 

When it comes to positional play Acosta and the fullback from the far side move infield to cover the middle area and prevent counter-attacks.

After the first period of the game, the Dallas managed to beat the opponent’s pressing in a more consistent way. With lots of movements and especially dropping movements Dallas could progress and break the Galaxy’s midfield line. Overloading one side of the pitch then use the outlet to escape the pressing and switch to the far side is a great tool. 

The second half continued in the same manner as the first half. Galaxy gave a big effort to at least end up with a tie, but their attempts were ineffective. Struggled to make scoring chances and their attacks system a little bit fall apart. In some situations, they lack precision, but most of the situations the players seem in a bit isolated position, which did not help to bypass the opponent’s press or defence. Their biggest tool was Ibrahimovic, when he dropped to get a ball. These had some potential due to his ability to keep the ball under heavy pressure and play it.