Let's be honest, Adam Moffat has been erratic at best and a sore spot among the Dallas faithful. Not that he's particularly a bad player, but the price tag to acquire him (Kenny Cooper and MLS'
monopoly allocation money) makes you expect more from a player than just being average. Last Sunday, with the game tied at one a piece, Oscar Pareja did the unthinkable (again) and went to his bench for a player who hadn't played since September 20 to replace a potential team MVP (Michel). On the surface, it didn't look like much. Moffat was doing his thing, breaking up passes, clogging lanes, distributing the ball pretty efficiently and not spectacularly. But there was a definite change in the way both teams played after that sub. Take a look with me:
Not that Moffat played any differently than he has during his career as a pro, but there was a definite mean streak, some bite, some muscle that was immediately injected to the Hoops. It wasn't in the mold of Hendry Thomas (remember him?) where the tackles were tough and unforgiving, but Moffat made his presence known that any ball played through the middle was going to have to go through him as he sat in front of Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman as the team's defensive midfielder.
The first benefit to FC Dallas was having more clear roles between the two center mids and their responsibilities. At this stage in his career, Victor Ulloa needs to be paired with another center mid. Michel served as his partner for most of the night against the LA Galaxy but with Michel's propensity to join in the attack at times, there were some tentative moments from Ulloa about whether to go forward or stay back. This left the team a little disjointed on both sides of the ball at times, but that dynamic immediately changed once Moffat entered the match and it was clear he was going to shield the back line and leave Ulloa to do his thing and distribute the ball between the defense and the offense.
This was probably the most noticeable change as possession was fairly even, and slightly in the favor of LA for the first 69 minutes. Then things shifted in favor of Dallas and as the MLS Analyst pointed out, possession 10 minutes leading up to Fabian Castillo's playoff clincher, possession was heavily in favor of Dallas.
That long yellow bar you see in the second half? That was 5 minutes before Moffat came into the match. In fact, possession was 58.75% in favor of Dallas for the last 21 minutes thanks to Moffat. Of course, possession doesn't win you points, but your opponent can't score when they don't have the ball, which leads us to the next point.
For multiple reasons, this being Landon Donovan's last hurrah in Frisco, him retiring, him being the best player on the Galaxy, etc, I'll be focusing on LD for a moment. Here are his touches for the first 69 minutes:
Pretty standard stuff. Now take a look what happened after the Scotsman said "You Shall Not Pass!"
The difference was Donovan averaged 0.79 touches per minute for the first 69 minutes, then dropped to 0.29 touches per minute afterwards. Not saying Moffat shut LD down. I'm definitely not because he wasn't tasked with tracking Donovan, but Moffat did change the way LA played their game and clogged some passing lanes that prevented LD from getting the ball.
I'm with most everyone here. I've been disappointed with Moffat and his play for much of this season. That "Moffat Rocket" we've seen and heard about from year's past? Non-existent. But, like with everything he does, Oscar Pareja has found a way to get the most out of everyone on his team. Moffat is no longer a starter, but give him 20 minutes to win the ball back for the Dallas offense and FCD might have unearthed yet another weapon for a deep playoff run.