It was another disappointing result for FC Dallas in the end last night against the Portland Timbers. Up two, Portland climbed back in with a late stoppage-time goal after two red cards to secure the draw.
The first half offense for FC Dallas was probably about as good as we've seen since April. Blas Perez looks like he is back to his old self in the attack. Tesho Akindele plays like a veteran with the body of a rookie. Andres Escobar is finally coming into his own in MLS. And then Fabian Castillo is playing like a new man.
What else can you really say about how the attack was going? Thanks to some strong midfield play from Adam Moffat (yes his first half was actually pretty damn solid) and Victor Ulloa (how good was he last night?), FCD was able to lure Portland in and beat them down on the counter attack like they created the idea.
Castillo's finishing as of late has been sure impressive but his decision making in the first half was once again spot on. As much as we've talked about things clicking for him this season, it appears he is finally getting where we expected him to be from day one.
The Perez goal was super impressive too, mainly because of the team factor. It started in the back with Je-Vaughn Watson and Akindele did the rest to help set up the run.
Seriously, the first half was fun to watch.
Again, it was a matter of two different halves in this game. Actually it was a matter of 75 minutes against the final 15+ for the Dallas defense.
Yes, Moffat had some issues. So did Je-Vaughn Watson. But overall, the back four did a very solid job of making sure Portland wasn't able to get through anything by Raul Fernandez for the majority of the game. Fernandez himself had one of his better performances, minus a couple times that he came a little too far out of his box to make a spot.
The defense faced a whopping 30 shots last night. 30! Portland also had 36 crosses in the game. Given how short the center back combo was compared to Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman (or George John), not bad.
But I have to tip my hat to Zach Loyd and Stephen Keel for really gearing this defense up and getting them where they needed to go. Loyd was vocal as I've ever seen him on the field and he really got the team motivated despite Perez being the captain on the field. Seeing him motivate the club on the field before kickoff was something else.
Keel was also a big leader on the field, as he was vocal like usual. But it wasn't just the vocal additions that helped with Keel, as he made several big stops in the defense. His play along with Loyd's really helped set the tone for the young guys like Moises Hernandez and Ulloa. And to be fair, Hernandez had a very good game until that red card.
More discipline issues
Speaking of red cards. We got two more to discuss unfortunately. Hernandez's red was incredibly weak. Given the fact that Danny O'Rouke went in with two feet up on the challenge and Mo tried to hope out of the way doesn't sound like a red card to me. O'Rouke sold the challenge too, which gives me reason to believe that the official (who was calling his 5th MLS match by the way) played to the reaction more than anything else that he should have. Terrible call.
Perez on the other hand was honestly not that shocking. A yellow worthy call, sure. But Perez has built up a bad reputation this season with officials so that play didn't shock me one bit to see happen.
But now we're at EIGHT red cards on the season, tying a club-record just halfway through the season. The next regular season game at the end of the month in Columbus will be another tough one as FCD faces it without Perez, Hernandez and likely Castillo as he threw a fit towards the sideline ref after the game ended. Yikes.
The break is here
Yes, the World Cup break is here...sorta. The club does have an Open Cup game to deal with next Tuesday but I would expect a fairly young lineup in that game while players are getting healthy. Those three I mentioned above will probably play in this one but everyone else might be young.
Even after all of that the World Cup break is a much needed one for FCD. Players need to get healthy during this stretch which we should hopefully see at least one or two come back to training in the next few days. We'll keep you all up to date on that front as much as we can.
We're halfway done with the season, if you can believe that. Next week I'll go into some things we've gather through 17 games and what we can expect in the second half of the season.