I think the one word that may best describe Saturday night in Frisco was impressive. Everything about that night was simply impressive from the way FC Dallas handled business, to the weather, all the way to the result. It was all rather impressive.
FC Dallas extended their unbeaten run to five games in league play with a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution. Over all that run is now at eight games if you include the current run in the US Open Cup.
Again, just impressive.
Total defensive effort
In a small way last night was a perfect storm of such. The offense was getting loads of chances, the midfield was collectively doing good and the defense was just solid.
New England had little to no answers on the night. Part of that was due to their unfortunately current form of now seven games lost in a row. We've had bad streaks here over the last couple years but to lose seven games in a row is tough to swallow for anyone, I don't care who you are. Because of that form, the Revs struggled to create chances. Just two shot total in the first half and really nothing that actually tested Raul Fernandez.
But late in the game the Revs made some subs to bring some life into their attack. By adding rookie Patrick Mullins and other solid youngsters like Kelyn Rowe and Diego Fagundez, you'd think that the Revs would have mustered up a little more against a Dallas team that has been leaky late in games this year.
Last night wasn't the case. The defense was stout from opening whistle to the closing whistle. New England tried at times to go down the heart of the defense with quick one-two passes but every time FCD would cut off the passing lanes in the end. I'm not sure Fernandez was ever truly tested on the evening thanks to the defensive effort.
It wasn't just the back four that had solid nights defensively. I felt the way Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele did up front really set the tone for how well this game was going to go on the defensive front. Throw in the fact that Andres Escobar and Je-Vaughn Watson had good outings on the wings as well, showed just how much of a total defensive effort this was from FC Dallas.
Alright, I have to touch on this because it stood out. There were moments on Saturday night that you saw just how damn important the academy play is to the future of this club. I saw brief flickers of play between Moises Hernandez and Victor Ulloa that signified just how key it will be down the line to have guys within the system playing together for years at a time like those two have.
I believe it was midway through the first half before Escobar got on the board for FCD. It wasn't much of a play that really had an impact on the game as a whole but it was enough to make me realize this thought. Ulloa and Hernandez had a quick give-and-go that showed their connection and understanding of one another on the field. Having played together so long the way those two have, I don't think I've seen young players have that kind of connection before with this club.
Again it wasn't a profound play but just that little spark showed why the youth game here for FCD is so important going forward. It also made me want to see Kellyn Acosta back and healthy too. I've been thinking for a while now that maybe Acosta is the key going forward in the midfield with the way Zach Loyd has been playing as of late. Having that spark and connection with Ulloa could be a massive gamble to try but something worth exploring late in the season.
Grinding out results
After the dismal month of May, FC Dallas is on a bit of a hot streak. The good thing about June and July, so far, is that while the results continue to be good, the team is getting some rest here and there due to the relaxed schedule.
I'll say this though, going forward FCD has to make sure to win their home games. With just 14 games to go on the slate, only six of those are at Toyota Stadium. Win those six games and you can almost punch your ticket into the post season. Win those six games and pick up some points away from North Texas and you may see this team be able to avoid that wildcard game to start the playoffs.
The big key going forward for this club is introducing Mauro Diaz back into the lineup on a full-time basis. As nice as it is to have him off the bench, you really can't have him there all the time. He has to be a starter again at some point which begs the question of who gets left behind. After Saturday night, I'm starting to wonder if adding him on the wing for the time being to keep this 4-4-2 formation that appears to be working really well may be the answer. Almost in a Mauro Rosales type situation.
All I can say is that Oscar Pareja did well to stick with what was working on Saturday night. For 70 minutes-plus he opted to not go to his bench and just let the starting 11 do the work as a team. He picked his moments when to sub and it paid off. Outside of Hendry Thomas and George John being out, Pareja nearly has a solid choice of players to pick from for his lineup these days. How he juggles in it in the weeks ahead is key. Lately he hasn't made a mess of it, which is a refreshing change of course for a club that has routinely struggled in June and July in the past couple of seasons.