The shuffle actually worked
Pareja gambled yet again on his lineup with more changes to start this one but in the end, the shuffle worked. Adam Moffat had arguably his best game yet (the bar was pretty low to begin with there) in a Dallas uniform and bringing Chris Setiz back into the net did seem to help calm the defense down a bit.
Defensively, things just finally clicked in the back between Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman. Adding Moises Hernandez to the back line was also a change that worked well as Jair Benitez was given a nice rest after a couple solid games.
Homegrown players continue to impress
Let's take a step back and just be impressed with what Victor Ulloa and Hernandez brought to the game last night.
Ulloa continues to gain confidence by the second when he is out on the field. More importantly he is gaining the ability to lead the midfield. He gets in and fights for the ball just the way a player in his position should and he is allowing the players around him to play their games better as well.
Also about this pass..
Like I said, confidence, the kid is gaining it by the bucket loads.
Hernandez also had a solid evening, containing the likes of Javier Morales and the speedy play of Joao Plata (until his hamstring pulled). His passing was solid from the back and never once did it seem like he was putting his fellow defenders in a bad spot.
Offense still dry
But as good as the defense finally was last night, the offense continued to suck up the place. Blas Perez continues to struggle to find the back of the net. Fabian Castillo continues to make one dribble too many, or in the case of a chance he had in the first half, not enough dribbles to give himself the chance to score. Tesho Akindele is by all accounts doing well in the attack but when a few players are cold, it tends to rub off even on players who are trying hard.
As good as Ulloa was last night at attempting to be Mauro Diaz, the chances just were limited against a quality defense like what RSL has. Thanks to the limited chances meant fewer opportunities for guys like Perez and Castillo to break dry spell and hit the back of the net.
Then you have the lack of subs in last night's game from Pareja. Andres Escobar really could have been brought on 10 minutes before he was, same for David Texeira. But at the end of the day, I am fine with how the final two subs went. Pareja waited to kill the game off in the final minutes with those subs and in a situation like last night where the offensive chances were few and far in-between, that is just what you do.
The road ahead
While I don't think we'll see this lineup will remain the same way next week against San Jose, but I do think we'll see more of Moffat and Ulloa in the midfield and possible more Akindele in the attack. The question will remain, does Pareja go back to Raul Fernandez in goal? Does he add Benitez back to the defense? Does he gamble and insert Stephen Keel back in the middle of the defense as well?
A lot of questions but one thing is clear, the schedule will begin to lighten up, the next two are at home. The grueling month is nearly over and that should help going forward. As bad as the winless streak has gone for this club, I am much more in the camp of wanting to get something like this out of the way at this point in the season rather than in July and August like we've seen out of this club over the last two years.
The shutout is a great step forward for FCD here. I think we'll see that it will be a bit of a relief to finally get out of the way here too. Anytime you can check those kind of items off the list in the early part of the season, players will relax more and the game should come easier to them. With the way this team is fighting, I truly do think good things are ahead.