Games are always a little more fun when your team wins. Going into the 80th minute or so last night I was working on the game recap that goes up on this blog right after the final whistle is blown and I couldn't help but think that if the result stayed the way it was at that moment (1-1 draw), that things this coming week wouldn't nearly be as enjoyable as they are likely to be after the big win.
Golazos all around. I don't throw the phrase Golazo around too often when talking about any one goal. But last night we certainly had three quality strikes in the come from behind performance. I may break them all down later on this week if there is time for it but each were special in their own way. Je-Vaughn Watson's early strike certainly set the tone that if you put some pace on the ball, you'll beat Vancouver keeper David Ousted.
But what can you say about Mauro Diaz's volley and Jair Benitez's bomb? Both were spectacular. Both were so difficult to score too. For Diaz, to be able to bring that ball down and place it the way he did is no easy task. But as Eric Hassli called him, 'the little genius', the kid could do no wrong last night in where he struck the ball.
And Benitez's goal. Holy cow. As good as that volley was from Diaz, I had several players and coaches tell me last night that Benitez's 55 yard strike should easily be a goal of the year candidate, if not the goal of the year. For those who haven't played the game before, anytime you are dribbling the ball at the pace that Benitez was dribbling on that place and to be able to look up and see where the keeper was and be able to beat him with a long range strike like that is extremely difficult. Looking back at some of the long range bombs scored in MLS, you'll find just a couple and one that comes to mind was scored by David Beckham. So Benitez is in some rare company now.
Fluid play despite lack of a big man. All week long we wondered out loud, where would the goals come from this week? We knew the midfield needed to step up and thankfully they did. You also gotta give credit to Schellas Hyndman for going with a speedy attack and a slight 4-4-2 with Fabian Castillo and David Ferreira playing off one another up front. Dallas was dangerous on the ball throughout the night and really kept Vancouver under pressure for large stretches of the game. Maybe the 100 degree heat had something to with that early on but once Dallas tied the game up, I never felt like Vancouver really posed any major threat on the ball.
Castillo's big night. Aside from the two late goals, this was clearly one of Castillo's best games in a Dallas uniform. Sure, he always looks good when he scores but who knew he could be the guy that sets up the plays as well? Two assists on the night and both were just smart plays to a teammate in open space. I hope to break his game down a little further on Monday or Tuesday if there is time but when I asked Hyndman about Castillo's game last night, he was quick to say how pleased he was with his decision making and passing on the night. Maybe Castillo has finally turned the corner, or maybe he just plays better when Ferreira is more active like he was last night. Whatever the case may be, he was dangerous throughout and I have to think that with Blas Perez coming back into the lineup next week, a 4-4-2 with him up top with Perez would be a fun thing to watch.
Watson continues to improve. We've talked a lot this year about Watson. We've probably beat the horse and killed the damn thing just by talking about him this season but these last three games he's turned the corner as well and as proven hopefully to us all that he is a quality player to have. Yes, he still will make a bonehead play every now and then but we're seeing far less of that these days and more dangerous play on the wings out of him. Now that Hyndman has options in the center of the midfield with Erick, Andrew Jacobson and possibly even Peter Luccin, Watson can finally play on the wings where he belongs. The last couple of games he's played out wide and his play has improved with each performance.
Interestingly enough, Watson told reporters last night that he actually turned down a chance to be with his country (Jamaica) during this current World Cup qualifier stretch. He said his club was more important right now than his country. Not many players would say that.
Defensively sounds. Take away the first five minutes of the game where the Whitecaps snuck in and scored the game-opener. The Dallas defense was very sound and collective on the night. Matt Hedges did an excellent job of frustrating Camilo with both physical play and just smart defending. George John was the general in the back as he usually is and he made sure Kenny Miller didn't get many chances on the ball. Not to mention the Washington native probably had two or three big interceptions in the open field of play.
The second half changed a little bit as Vancouver attempted to target Kellyn Acosta's side of the field. They had a couple chances to get around him but once again guys like Hedges, John, Erick and Jacobson were there to snuff out any changes.
If Dallas can play with that kind of quality in the back from here on out and have the offense look the way it did last night, there is no doubt in my mind that this can be a playoff team.