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As Austin FC looms, Dallas looks for the right balance in the midfield.

I asked FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez about how the midfield needs to improve in the coming games.

I love asking FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez about tactical questions.

Some coaches aren’t interested in getting into the weeds around tactical decisions, but others, including Nico, don’t mind chatting about the technicalities.

Including what role he wants his midfielders to fill on the pitch - when to press, what kind of shape, what areas of the pitch. Sometimes, it is little things that need to be improved for a team to unlock their next gear. We may not see it from the stands or the live feed, but one positioning mistake, one miscommunication can be unforgiving in this league.

The midfield is being asked to do a lot in FCD’s tactical setup, both shielding the backline defensively, snuffing out counter-attacks, and knowing when to get forward. While Illarramendi and Fraser appeared to be the preferred starting duo, injuries have limited their ability to build chemistry. Maybe that will begin to change.

As Dallas welcomes Austin to their own house in a crucial match, my gut is to watch the midfield’s performance to see if they can clean up mistakes, trigger more dangerous attacks in key areas, and generally shore up a defense that has been too leaky this year.

Afterburn Soccer Show
When the lights go down, we go live. Join Nathan, Jose, Tommy, and Ismael to talk about FC Dallas action, rumors, and drama each and every week as we enjoy Major League Soccer's 2022 season together and see what Nico and the boys can do as they compete for hardware. We stream the podcast live every Monday night, so your questions might make it on air. More info at Also, Kings of Texas!