Ah, breath that in. A win hasn't tasted so good right? There really isn't a better way to start a new week than to look back and notice that your club came away with three full points over the weekend.
Offensive output shines through with Castillo
In a way it felt like a long time coming for Fabian Castillo. The game-winner he scored on Saturday wasn't just for his wife and future baby. But it was more of a showing that he is finally learning when to make the right decision on the field. Castillo still has miles to go but it seems to me that the goal he scored on Saturday was something that we've all been waiting so desperately for out of him for a few seasons now.
After the game you could tell he was feeling the same way even thought he has scored several goals in his time with FCD. This goal wasn't necessarily a coming out party but maybe a culmination of something more for him. Oscar Pareja has told us many times this season that Castillo has actually been one of the hardest working players on the team. I think Saturday night proved it.
Saturday night also proved that the offense still has some life to it after all. Jair Benitez's free kick was something else, as was Zach Loyd's follow up before halftime. I asked Loyd if that kind of goal was a defenders dream and he said of course it was. To be in the right spot at the right time, and yes, get a little help in the end from the keeper is always something that you need.
FC Dallas hasn't had the luck in recent weeks but finally some kicked in on Saturday. But I think the more I saw the game go on the more I also saw some life out of Blas Perez too. The veteran forward looked dangerous around goal and was unlucky not to score one on the night when a header banged off the crossbar. I think he is
One of the funniest things to see what afterwords in the locker room when someone from the coaching staff showed Andres Escobar the scoresheet. He had no clue that he was credited with the goal. Even if MLS goes back and changes it to Jair Benitez, that confidence was building in him.
Sure, the club gave up two goals. In a small way I will let that pass on the night after really watching how well the team played in the second half with both starting center backs out.
Let's get right to it on that back four in the second half. Je-Vaughn Watson came in and played quite well at right back for 45 minutes and Loyd was also a solid player in the middle of the defense with Stephen Keel too. Benitez was his usual dangerous self on the left side, which was good to see.
But the big thing for me was the play of Victor Ulloa. I hate to sound like a fan boy here but the kid is just getting 'it' with each passing game. He has the confidence to make a challenge on the ball and time and time again he bailed out a fellow defender or put himself in the right spot to help keep the defense from feeling the pressure from the speedy forwards that the Rapids were throwing at them.
Ulloa has been a revelation as of late, something that we cannot ignore. I have to say it was a shame that he didn't win Man of the Match by the fans afterwards either. Goal scorers get all the love but damn it the defenders like Ulloa deserve just as much praise.
About those injuries
Still the negative to come away from this game had to be seeing both Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges go down with injuries.
Zimmerman for one look like he'll be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury yet again. You hate to see that really as he was finally 100% and was really starting to set his mark on the defense this season. But now the second-year defender is probably back to square one with his health, something that has been an issue for him since even before he was drafted by this club.
Hedges on the other hand does have a bit of a hamstring injury of his own but Pareja assured the reporters after the game that he was taken out at halftime as a precautionary thing. One thing we have to remember is that Hedges has had a lot of miles put on his legs this season with all the minutes he has played and all the extra ground he has had to cover in the six games where FCD has had to deal with red cards. Those things add up quickly on any player.
The big question is does Pareja risk Hedges on Wednesday knowing that there is a break ahead? I would be a bit shocked to see Hedges not at least give it a go to see how much he can push it.
Yet again FC Dallas has another quick turn around with a Western Conference game on the road. This week the club has to travel to Portland to face a Timbers squad that is slowly finding their way here this season.
The good news in all of this is that FCD is going to be ending a spell on the calendar that saw them play nine MLS games in 38 days. Just so you know, it will take the club 38 days to play their next three games.
That kind of scheduling couldn't come at a better time for a club that is still so banged up.