1. High tempo
WATCH: 'Caps fall 2-0 to FC Dallas last week
As I’ve said before, the ‘Caps would be well served to bring more tempo and energy to their play. They need only to look at the first 15 minutes of last weekend’s match in Dallas.
We came out really strong and unsettled there defenders and forced them into hitting long balls down the field. I remember being really encouraged by our start and the sight of their coach Schellas Hyndman on the sidelines trying to urge his team to get going.
We are a quick and athletic team up front and seem to play our best soccer when we are at a high tempo. By pressurizing Dallas high up the field we will create turnovers in dangerous areas and it will generate a buzz in the crowd which will lift the players in what is a very important game in our season.
2. Better wing play
WATCH: Jackson sends in cross for Perez
Dallas scored from two crosses in our first meeting. We have to do a better job of stopping these easy crosses coming into our box.
It felt like we gave them too much room on the wings and the crosser had too much time to put a quality ball into the box. We need to get more pressure on the ball when it is out wide in our last third of the field, and make it difficult for them to put good balls into our penalty box.
At the other end, our final ball has to be better as we found ourselves in good positions out wide but did not deliver good crosses into the box. That was also the case from our corner kicks and free kicks. If we can improve our own set pieces we’ll see more balls in the back of our opponents’ net.
3. Better hold-up play
WATCH: Miller holds up, creates chance with movement
Kenny Miller is for me the best in this department, whether it is posting up or finding space as the number 10, or while playing out wide. He does the little things that keep possession for us. Nobody has made any excuses during his absence, but he has been missed.
Our game flows when there is good hold-up play as it means there are more options when we play out of the back. We have shown we can play through the midfield, but if that’s not on we need balls we can play to our furthest man forward or the player who is playing just behind that striker.
Whoever plays in these roles will have a key part to play. They will need to keep moving, show for the ball and find that space then make sure the ball sticks so we can keep possession and not get caught on the counterattack.