We've been riding high so far this season with FC Dallas but last night was a good dose of reality. This season is a long, brutal marathon. The Seattle Sounders FC came into Toyota Stadium and left with three points.
There certainly was plenty to take away from this one as it felt like two different games rolled into one.
The first 10-15 minutes were all Dallas. Within the first five minutes of the game, FCD created four corner kicks and earned one free kick outside of the box. That was one way they outshot Seattle in the first half 11-2 and left for halftime with a 2-1 advantage.
The movement on and off the ball in the first half was really fun to watch. FCD targeted the left side of the field like we would have expected them to with Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo running right at Seattle fullback DeAndre Yedlin. The young Seattle Homegrown had a lot of trouble with the speed of Castillo and the foot skill of Diaz. He also struggled with Jair Benitez at times as well.
That early pressure helped facilitate the two goals, just as you would hope it would. Sure the first goal was a fluke but I'm sure David Texeira would take that any day of the week. In a small way, those are the kinds of goals that can get a guy going as the pressure is completely off him now to produce. The second was from the penalty spot by Michel after Texeira forced Yedlin to foul him in the box.
Second half changes
Whatever it was, the second half came and so the Dallas momentum went. Some blamed it on the wind last night, how it effected both teams. I don't buy that nearly as much (neither did most of the players). Seattle came out and pressed and showed how this FCD team can truly be when they are put on their heels.
For all the right moves that Pareja has made this season, he gambled with his first sub by bringing in Peter Luccin in the 70th minute to try and slow the pace down a bit. That gamble didn't pay off as Luccin lasted just eight or nine minutes on the night and left with a bum hamstring. Adam Moffat may have been a better option first off the bench instead. Pareja commented after the match that he could have helped his team more in the second half, likely that he wishes he had done his substations differently.
As Seattle pressed high, the chances for them came. Marco Pappa was a big addition off the bench as he brought a ton of energy to the left side for them against Zach Loyd. This helped create space in the middle of the field for Clint Dempsey to be himself.
I normally try not to discuss the other side in these recap type pieces but it is certainly hard not to when you see what Clint Dempsey is doing on the field these days. Three goals last week in Portland and two last night here in Dallas. He also helped cause the own-goal on Stephen Keel.
The problem Dallas had last night with Dempsey came in the second half. Sure he scored on that free kick in the first half but he was mostly neutralized by Hendry Thomas. But for whatever reason, once Kenny Cooper was subbed out, he played a little higher and that meant Matt Hedges and Benitez had to pick him up more. Neither seemed to be on the same page as the other and Dempsey took full advantage of it.
The third goal was a big indicator that Pareja could need to change some players up in his defense. Benitez was out of place and ball watching on the third goal.
Other nuggets from this game:
- Blas Perez was not in the 18 last night. Pareja said after words that he was kept out due to some recovery measures for his hamstring. Like we've mentioned recently, Pareja is really wanting to make sure he keeps Perez as fresh as possible.
- Tesho Akindele got his first minutes of the season. Hard to take any real thing away from his five minutes of work but it is positive to see Pareja look towards his top draft pick already here.
- Kellyn Acosta will join the US U-20 team today for the Dallas Cup. I wouldn't expect to see him next week against Toronto.
- Texeira getting his first goal is hopefully a good sign. As much as I think he is like a younger version of Blas, I believe he still needs an attacking partner. Maybe the 4-4-2 is in our future.