Once again I feel the need to stress it, we're only three weeks into the season. But not to be a Debbie Downer here, three points is three points and seeing FC Dallas sitting atop the league table at the moment is always a sweet thing no matter what time of the year it is.
FCD battled Chivas USA last night to a 3-1 win at Toyota Stadium. There was plenty to take away from this match too.
Diaz and offense show intensity
Once again, Mauro Diaz proved why he can be so special for this club. He was instrumental in the attack on the night. He not only set up the first two goals but he caused so many issues for Chivas on the night. He would get the ball in space and force Chivas to either let him run with the ball or foul him. More times than not, Chivas had to foul him.
I look at the ball he sent in to Je-Vaughn Watson on the game-winner. Not only was that the kind of ball as a defender you have so much trouble with, but it was the type of ball that really does set up an attacker to be in the best position to score. Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy could have easily made a save on Watson but kudos to the Jamaican for making a smart move around him before slotting away the goal.
After being ineffective the week before, Diaz was able to get more space to create thanks to the play of those around him. Sure we can say how well Diaz does to make his teammates better but I look at his teammates on the night as the reasons why he was able to be so effective. They put themselves in good positions and helped alleviate the pressure away from him.
But the one thing I'm really enjoying right now out of this group is their desire to continue to hunt for more goals after they gain the lead. They never look satisfied out on the field with just a single goal lead or even a two goal lead. The FCD of old would have bunkered, held on for dear life to get three points. This group however, pushes the limits and rewards themselves with more quality chances in the attacking end.
Defensively strong once again
Matt Hedges was given the captain's armband on the night, which he was very worth of too I might add. You can tell just by talking to other guys in the locker room that he has earned so much more respect this year than he ever has before with this club. It proved itself once again on the field last night as he was a calming force in the defense alongside Stephen Keel.
But it wasn't just the fact that those two were stellar in the middle of the defense. Chris Seitz was yet again very strong in goal. The lone Chivas goal by Erick Torres was really not something he could be blamed for in terms of bad positioning or anything like that. Kellyn Acosta had a very strong game as he was effective going forward when he needed to be but also made some good recoveries in defense when the occasional Chivas player got by him. Jair Benitez looked shaky at times but you saw his worth on the attacking end as well on the night.
Hendry Thomas was stellar to have in the midfield again and his presence on the field really helped shape this game. Key players like Mauro Rosales were completely ineffective for the visitors, and Thomas and Andrew Jacobson were a big reason for that.
Injuries and suspensions
I would be hard pressed not to discuss the red card to Thomas here. That two footed tackle was an easy red card decision and I'm sure Thomas knew it too. You hate seeing that because now Pareja has to figure out what to do with his midfield.
Both Adam Moffat and Jacobson went down with injuries on the night. Moffat is said to have a hamstring pull, he did walk off the field on his own power but as we've seen with other players and hamstring issues on this team, those are so tricky to deal with. Jacobson's ankle looked worse than some might have thought it would. He was hobbling on crutches afterwards but thankfully he was in good spirits when I talked with him after the game. I would imagine as long as there are no tears or strains to his ankle that he'll be back pretty soon.
Texeira was active off the bench
You have to give Pareja some credit once again with his substations in the second half. When Jacobson went down with his injury he called over to his bench and brought in David Texeira instead of someone like Michel who could replace Jacobson in the midfield. Briefly we saw a 4-4-2 because of that as Tex moved up front with Blas Perez. The result of Tex playing up top helped create the first goal.
It is still hard to figure out what Texeira is going to bring to this club but early returns are decent to say the very least. He is a physical type of attacker, that looks for contact and does well at getting it too. So far he has gotten fouled outside of the box twice this season and each time they have led to free kicks that were scored.
The one thing I worry about with him is that officials will realize that he is looking for contact and so with other teams. This could come back to bite him in the butt if he isn't careful about it. I would hate to see him be more of a threat to pick of a yellow card for diving/simulation than creating goal scoring chances.
One thing I consistently asked players last night was how the team chemistry was doing three weeks into the season. Sometimes it is hard to tell that this club spent a couple weeks in the middle east and that there are still so many new faces getting used to one another here. But the mood in the locker room has been good so far as you might expect it after two wins.
The thing I like hearing most out of Pareja and some of the players is that they feel their best is yet to come. They're hungry for more and even times when they looked their best last night, they consistently said they knew they could do better.