What a weird, wild night it was last night in Frisco. FC Dallas remained unbeaten after a solid 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers. There certainly was plenty to take away from this game, and we'll have plenty of different views from this one as well in the coming days on here.
Time now for a little 'what we learned' as we begin to dissect this game.
The kids are alright
There were shaky moments and there were moments of nerves but in the end seeing Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta on the field for the majority of the match was such a nice thing to see. Throw in the fact that Moises Hernandez also go into the match late in the game and that made for another night with three Homegrown players on the field.
We've made a lot of comments over the last two months about the Homegrown players on this team. Ever since Bradlee Baladez and London Woodberry were cut by the team, we all wondered out loud where things might be going with the academy group on the senior team. It turns out that just trusting Oscar Pareja and what he can do with this bunch is the way to go. Five Homegrown players in total made the 18 last night, without looking around the league for more information, I think we would be hard pressed to see that happen ever with any team in this league.
We'll dive more into Ulloa's play in particular later this week but I have to say I was pleased with his performance. Pareja certainly was afterword which is more than enough for me. What I liked the most was there were times that I just didn't notice him out there. In a d-mid or holding midfielder that is kind of what you want out of that player. Someone you know is there to calm things down but not need to rely all the time to take over the game.
The wings baby...the wings
I'm sure some of you get tired of me preaching this in my game previews but it continues to be the case. When FC Dallas goes wide, good things happen. Once again last night when FCD would spread the Timbers out, the chances came flowing in. Jair Benitez got forward plenty of times in a night where I thought he would be exposed more going against Darlington Nagbe. Instead, Benitez took over at times and really showed his value to me on the field. His ball to Acosta on that first goal was a thing of beauty.
On the other side of things, Fabian Castillo continued to have a strong night. If the kid could stay onside a little more, he would be looking at another goal or two. Portland had no answers for his pace and ability on the ball. He was a terror all night long and I think this is really just the beginning here of what could be a special season for Castillo.
Michel held his own
I will say this, the times that Portland really took it to Dallas was when they found ways to pressure Michel off the ball. It was the turnover machine that we saw out of him in the past but it was at times close to it. Had it not been for the red cards in the first half, this could have been a real sore spot for Dallas going forward into the late stages of the game. Portland made some subs in the second half that really caused issues for Michel and Ulloa...and Matt Hedges as well.
But in the end, Michel was solid on the night. He was better in the passing game than we've seen in the past and naturally his set piece ability was as good as you expect out of him. Thank goodness the Timbers really had no answer for clearing the ball out of the back last night too. A better defense would have had an easier time at clearing the ball out.
Those red cards
So I will finish with this about the red cards to Michael Harrington and Je-Vaughn Watson. In situations like this following the game one press reporter is able to talk to the officials about a call or play that changed the game like those red cards did last night. I ended up being that reporter that got to speak to the official last night and to be fair his response was a bit of a cop out as you could tell even he still didn't know the full extent of what happened.
Here is what the official said to me:
"The players were moving out from Portland's penalty area when [Je-Vaughn] Watson struck [Michael] Harrington. Harrington struck him back. Both were off the ball [fouls]. Both players were sent off for violent conduct."
I expect both teams to appeal the cards as both players were still rather speechless about the call after the game. Watson, you could tell was flabbergasted at the very least by it. He isn't a dirty player from what I've seen in his year and a half here. Harrington isn't a dirty player either.
"There was nothing there to give a red card for. Soccer is a competitive sport. He was pulling on me and I was pulling on him, so it was on the ball the first time, so I don't see that's a red card," Watson said. "I was saying before he gave the red card, I was saying if you're going to do something, that's a warning. That's not a red card. I'm still pissed because I got a red card for nothing."