It was an eventful night at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX on a chilly Saturday night, as FC Dallas had to fight an early deficit to earn the 3 points on Matchday 1. Oscar Pareja showed the new FCD identity in only his first match in charge and several players stood out in the win. Let's get going with the recap.
Pareja’s Starting XI
Debut manager Oscar Pareja went with the 4-3-3 again tonight as FCD hosted the Montreal Impact at Toyota Stadium.
Pareja opted to stay with Seitz in goal with Fernandez still out injured while Sanchez sat as the backup.
In the back, Oscar went with Acosta, Hedges, Hernandez (who makes his MLS debut) and to my surprise Jair Benitez. This surprised me as Jair had not been getting a ton of playing time in pre-season and I actually thought Michel had a strong match in San Antonio.
The midfield three was the same as in San Antonio, with Thomas sitting behind the duo of Captain Andrew Jacobson and playmaker Mauro Diaz.
The attacking three had one change with Je-Vaughn Watson replacing Danny Garcia on the right wing with Perez and Castillo slotting in at striker and left wing, respectively.
First Half Recap
It may have been the opening minutes of the season, but Montreal was looking to make an impact early on in the match. Jair Benitez made a nice double save (with a little help for Chris Seitz) off of a corner kick and a rebound.
In the 10th minute Justin Mapp dribbled past three FCD players before crossing the ball to Sanna Nyassi who put it away leaving Chris Seitz no chance, 0-1 Montreal leads. Benitez and Thomas needed to step in and make a quick tackle or Moises needed to be strong and push Mapp off the ball when he did get through. This was an example of how not to defend by FCD.
A couple notes on the first 15 minutes –
Kellyn Acosta is flying up and down the right side of the pitch. Great to see our outside backs getting higher up the field, as that is needed in the 4-3-3. Also, Castillo’s defensive responsibility, or lack thereof, in the 4-3-3 will benefit him greatly all season, as he is able to stay higher up the field and kill on the counter.
Near the 15th minute Troy Perkins bobbles a ball, a theme for him on the night and should be more secure with the ball.
In the 16th minute Benitez sends in a cross that finds Watson, who uses to attempts to strike the ball and it deflects off of Perez’s chest before landing at Castillo’s feet. Fabian then calmly collects the ball and slides it to the back post. 1-1
Seitz had a strong day in goal and had a great punch in the 20th minute that found Benitez who led a counter. Benitez found Fabian streaking towards the goal, but was flagged offside before hitting it wide.
Mauro Diaz was all over the place on the night and this showed in the 23rd minute when he entered the box with some flashy dribbling and received contact from Brovsky before going down softly in the box. The ref gives a PK and Blas Perez converts in the 24th minute. 2-1
Montreal forced another great save from Seitz in the 31st minute as Seitz has to go to ground again to get the ball after an Impact counter attack.
The first 30 minutes was by far the most exciting part of the match and the match really settled down after this time.
In the 44th minute Diaz found Acosta on the right side of the box, but Acosta blasts it wide.
The first half ended with FCD leading 2-1 over the Impact.
Second Half Recap
The second half started with a bang for Dallas; a slingshot kickoff found Perez up field who slotted the ball to Castillo before he played the ball in and FCD forced a free-kick. What happens next is magnificent.
Diaz lines up for the free kick from 22 yards out and sees a chance to strike for goal; Mauro bends the ball over the wall and away from Troy Perkins, who can only watch the ball sail into the back of the net. It was one of the best goals I have seen at Toyota Stadium! (Yes, I missed the match where Mauro struck the volley, Watson had the 20 yard rip and Benitez decided to score from 60 yards out. School comes first I suppose…) 3-1
In the 54th minute Felipe had a solid shot to the back post and forced a strong save out of Seitz. On the ensuing corner Seitz was strong to punch the ball clear for a second time.
The most frightening moment came in the 63rd minute when Hendry Thomas pulled up and had to be subbed off. On came Michel in the 66th minute to replace him in the midfield (AJ dropped back to make it a 2-1 midfield with Diaz alone as the CAM.)
Prior to the sub, with FCD a man down, Felipe surged down the left side of the pitch and swung a ball into Andrew Wenger who beat Hernandez to the ball easily and nodded home to make it 2-3.
Unfortunately, Nyassi had to leave the match early with a head injury after taking a hit to the face off an Acosta rocket.
In the 81st minute Escobar came in to make his FCD debut, replacing Acosta, but was not able to create much in his short 10-minute shift.
The one play he was involved in had Castillo streaking down the left side of the field and he slotted it into Escobar who with his first touch as a FCD player rolled the ball safely into Perkins hands; should have done much better with that play.
By this point in the match, FCD had moved into a much more defensive style to play it safe for the final 10 minutes of the match.
Camara dribbled 50 yards and 5 FCD players, in the 86th minute before laying it off, but later grabbing a rebound and shooting from 30 yards to force a tough diving save from Seitz.
Peter Luccin comes in at the 88th minute for Mauro Diaz, who gets a standing applause from the entire stadium.
After a poor distribution from Chris Seitz (not the only one on the day- the weather probably did not help) the match ended with FCD ahead 3-2, earning Oscar Pareja a win on his first match in charge with FC Dallas!
Great performances from Castillo, Seitz and Man of the Match Mauro Diaz led FCD to the three points on Matchday 1. An early season win will do wonders for locker room morale and we should see a glowing FCD next weekend.
Questions this match created.
1. If Hendry Thomas is out injured, who replaces him?
2. Was this the true FCD, or is a weakened Montreal team the reason for a strong offensive showing?
3. Is Moises Hernandez able to play CB at this level, being involved in both Montreal goals?
4. Does Raul Fernandez come straight into the lineup when fit, or will Seitz keep the spot?
5. Will Watson keep his position, or does he lose it after a so-so showing?