What can you really say about last night's game? Daniel called it epic, I call it gritty. Whatever way you want to spin it, the six points from the last two home games is what the doctor ordered for FC Dallas after an opening month to the season that was rather forgetful.
For the most part the first half against the Montreal Impact was a dud for FC Dallas. The 4-4-2 formation with Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson in the middle just wasn't cutting it. Those two are far to similar to be in the middle of the pitch like that and it showed as the offense had little juice going forward. Brek Shea, Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo really had nothing to show for in the opening 45 minutes.
But two changes at half did it. Schellas Hyndman brought in Bobby Warshaw and Bruno Guarda. He also shifted the team back to the 4-1-4-1 and the game picked itself up. Carlos Rodriguez went back to the defense while we got a taste of what life with Warshaw in the midfield will be like going forward.
Read on for more thoughts
For me however, Dallas really didn't wake up until after the penalty call on Zach Loyd. It was the shot in the arm that the club needed as the first 15 minutes of the second half resembled the first 45 minutes of the game where the offense just couldn't take off. Give credit to Montreal for defending in numbers and for playing physical when they needed to across the midfield.
Thankfully Guarda and Warshaw were steady and calm on the night. I didn't see a ton wrong from either player though at times it did seem like Guarda was trying to push things that weren't there.
A few things did change shortly after the Montreal PK and that's what drove Dallas to a win.
Castillo's speed on the wing. If you watched closely late in the second half, it was Castillo on the wings giving pressure to Montreal's Tyson Wahl that helped set up both goal scoring situations for Dallas. One was a set piece that he helped create, which Perez scored, the other was a simple ball into Shea for the game-winner.
Set pieces still iffy. While one goal did come from a set piece, the rest of the night from the corner spot or anywhere else on the field from Hernandez was a nightmare yet again. I guess going one of 10 or whatever isn't bad but still, it has to get better if Dallas wants to compete with the likes of Real Salt Lake, Seattle and even LA if they are indeed making a comeback here.
Shea on the ball. We touched on it after the New England game here, Shea is finally out there demanding the ball in big situations. And yet again, the man delivers in a big way this week. Late in the game you could see the fire and the passion this kid has and he put himself into the goal scoring situations a number of times with one finally paying off in the 88th minute. Dallas needs more of Shea doing this to relieve the pressure off Castillo and Perez. Thankfully I believe we are indeed seeing the Shea that we all love to watch here.
Guarda out of the doghouse. I know Bruno was in the doghouse with Hyndman earlier this year but you have to think the faith in him is restored now. It also may be safe to think that next week in Vancouver we could see him in the starting XI if Villar is still out. He was strong on the ball and calm with his passing. The bigger thing was he didn't put a ton of pressure on the guys behind him with bad passes. Is he the answer in the midfield? Maybe but he is certainly someone that Hyndman can bring in to the games late like this and get away with it. I know Hyndman has been iffy on making subs like this but this game had to restore his faith in his bench.
The crowd. Holy smokes, 16,000 for a game against an expansion team? I sat in the crowd for this one with my wife and two friends and I was blown away with the number in the stands. To be fair, it was a perfect night for soccer in North Texas. Aside from the crazy wind going on, the temperature was perfect out and it was good to see the fans coming for this one. Has Dallas turned that corner at the gate? Maybe. I think we'll certainly know more if they have given that their next home game is on a Wednesday night, typically a brutal sale for the club.