A hot and humid day in Frisco this past Saturday night, pretty sure the humidity was about 100%. It was kids night more than usual, as youth team after youth team flooded into the stadium. Pockets of one color dotted the Frisco stadium. Colorado was visiting and personally I wanted us to win this game badly, mainly because of the made-up drama being built around this match, just an unnecessary amount of build up to a match between a struggling FC Dallas and a Colorado Rapids team riding on a nice high.
Awesome First Half
Pareja was tinkering once again with his line-up as Peter Luccin and Andres Escobar both made their first starts of the season. It was weird that Andrew Jacobson got the bench with Luccin instead getting the start over our captain, and I couldn't help but notice that our current Frenchman is also starting to get a little bit of a stomach on him much like our last guy from France.
With Fabian Castillo and Escobar starting on both wings, you couldn't help but get the sense that there was going to be some quick attacks from the wings and service delivered to our center forwards.It looked like a 4-2-2-2 Pareja was rolling out and Escobar and Castillo were allowed to switch flanks when they wanted, providing them enough freedom to cut inside and create from where they could if the flank was clogged.
In the first half the east stand got to see Zach Loyd play out of his skin for the first half. The outside back had his hands full with the winger Hill and my Colorado man of the match (this is from what I saw) left-back Chris Klute. Man, Klute was a hassle on the left side for most of the first half. His only blemish had to have been his nice touch on the Loyd goal. The Texas native was up and down the Colorado left flank providing great defending and coupling it with some solid runs forward. After the first goal a sense of 'same ol' same ol'' really started to permeate around my section and a groan followed every loss of possession with some wondering aloud what exactly it was that our team was currently doing.
Victor Ulloa deserves big praise for his outing in this game, the kid was hounding every possession that Colorado had, seeking out that ball and taking it from whomever had it. There was possession won after possession won because of the Wylie native doing damage. Just a sublime performance from the midfielder that really should not go unnoticed by the fans. This guy was our workhorse, subtle but effective and no bookings to boot. If Benitez hadn't had scored the goal, my man of the match would've been Ulloa.
My Humble Pie, I'll Eat It
Ok, I rag on Castillo and Jair Benitez most weekends, but they showed up this weekend big time. My top 3 of the match for this game goes in this order: 1. Jair Benitez; 2. Victor Ulloa; 3. Fabian Castillo.
Benitez showed his quality in a productive way this game, I was half dazed out when I saw him standing over the ball, really not expecting much. Then with a mighty strike he sent the ball into the net somehow with Irwin looking like he just committed an error. Suddenly we were back in this game, hope was restored, and my faith in Benitez had been slightly rejuvenated in one free kick sequence. Our wingers were menacing the Colorado defense, and Castillo had a run where he cut inside and was running straight at the defense. One step over too many and the defender got a foot to the ball only to see it fall to a waiting Zach Loyd. Loyd then took a shot, and it went far corner into the net and the crowd blew up. We were finally in front, and it was thanks to Loyd taking a chance, and Castillo blazing a path in front of him to conjure up our first lead in...gosh...who knows how long?!
Heading into halftime we were 2-1, and it felt like Dallas had one more goal in them, just one to seal the game. Then the 2nd half started, Loyd in at CB and...wait...Loyd at CB?! Yes. It appeared that with our 2nd substitution, Oscar Pareja had replaced Matt Hedges, our other starting CB (after Zimmerman pulled up very nasty-like in front of the east stand) with JV Watson who slotted in at right back, and the smaller Zach Loyd moved back to play central defender. Wasn't Nick Walker on the bench? He's a CB! When I saw that, I would've put my life savings on the fact that we'd concede again. It just so happens it was as I anticipated, and the game was level again after Luccin let a Rapid get the better of him and a nice diving header evened things up. Half expecting a red card this game, it was easy to see who'd be on the receiving end of one as Luccin was really not getting along with the ref after a couple of reckless tackles and a blatant handball got him in the book. Thankfully Pareja pulled the former Atletico Madrid fan to put our captain on the field midway through the 2nd half.
Then 'The Goal' happened. Oh man I'm replaying the beauty of what I witnessed on that pitch, Castillo took the ball near midfield, dancing past defenders sliding in left and right, controlling the ball magnificently and gliding into the box after leaving 3 of the guys in the dust. An amazing run, this was where he messes up, but he took a pop and scored an incredible goal. I would vote for it to be the goal of the year for FCD up until this point. This is exactly what we've been wanting and expecting from Castillo for years now, a quick dribbler who can make the right decision where it mattered, and this time he made that correct decision. The rest of the game I kept playing that goal in my head over and over, it was sensational!
In conclusion, I was very happy that Pareja gave our guys some freedom to take some shots on goal. The first 2 goals may have been deflections, but they would not have come had we not taken some chances on goal in the first place. Then Castillo, man oh man, the Colombian duly delivered today with a few nice services into the box and an incredible solo effort to give us our first win in forever. Loyd at CB was a risk, but he really had some ups, he got air like Michael Jordan, not even kidding. A great win for FCD, and a much needed win going to Portland one a few days later.
Who was your man of the match? Pareja really gambled this match with his subs, did Castillo save his risks? Game of the season for Benitez? Is Victor Ulloa one of our most consistent outstanding performers? Let me know in the comments!