FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas' performance in the final third could be simply summed up as hit or miss over the summer. Going into their Heineken Rivalry Week derby against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Dallas had been shut out in five of its previous nine matches.
But against their South Texas rivals, Dallas delivered a string of hits in a 5-1 win to retain El Capitan and push themselves back into a Western Conference playoff spot.
"One of our best games in terms of efficiency," said FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez. "Around the box, in the box, getting numbers in the box and getting service. First 15-20 [minutes] we were flat but the group responded and they adapted to the game quickly."
As Gonzalez mentioned, efficiency was a key factor, as Dallas scored five goals off of 125 passes in the final third. What may have been even more shocking was to get there without the attacking prowess of Paxton Pomykal, as Jesus Ferreira got the start at the No. 10 spot.
"I think all that happens in training," said Ferreira. "In training we attack, sometimes the coach switches up players and tries different things. It's one of those things where if it's clicking we should put it out there. It's just part of the game."
The other major change up front came as The Cobra, Zdenek Ondrasek, took the opportunity of his first start at Toyota Stadium and lived up to his moniker in and around the Houston box, finishing with a brace and an assist.
"We talked about getting service in there earlier, to get less time for the opponent to set," said Gonzalez. "Cobra, he's been showing that he's ready for any type of cross or service, whether it's a run in behind the backs, whether it's a jump and challenge, and lay off for another player. He has variation in the box, and we wanted to play to our strengths in terms of the personnel on the field.
"I think he was a good reference for us to get some earlier service in there and play off of that," he added. "Then we were able to get guys even winning second balls. [Michael Barrios] scores from a deflection that ends up back at his feet, it's just about staying connected with the ball, the play, and getting numbers bunched in the box."
Whatever the reason, Ferreira and his teammates are happy to see the results paid off with a large Texas Derby win that keeps El Capitan in North Texas and FC Dallas in the playoff hunt.
"The whole team is happy," said Ferreira. "We're happy with the things Coach Luchi put us through in training and apply it to the game. We like to score. There's a lot of people talking about our attack, that we haven't scored many but we're showing them that we're improving. We've had our improvements in training and now we're doing it during the game."