Just let them run. That seems to be the most understated motto of this FC Dallas club these days as they extended their unbeaten run to 10-games in league play this past weekend with a big 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
There was drama, goals, poor officiating, and a great crowd on Friday night.
Bunker and counter
While I'll admit, this isn't my favorite form of soccer to watch a team utilize on the field, for this club it just works. Plain and simple. The speed is there and always has been for a style of play like this to work out. And now that the defense is really doing a number on teams, it is allowing the speed to be just that much more effective on the counter attack.
Thankfully for FCD, they have the one player in MLS right now that is perfectly suited for this style of play. Of course I am talking about Fabian Castillo, who scored yet another remarkable goal on Friday night. A low, hard-driven shot to the far post past Nick Rimando. Six months ago Castillo would have never scored that goal let alone got the ball on frame. Today, he is not only finding the back of the net with ease, he is making a serious case for league MVP (too early for that talk but it is nearly that time if he continues to keep this up).
FCD waited for their moments on Friday even before the red card to Blas Perez. They picked apart the diamond in the midfield for RSL and found those pockets of space that were always going to be there for Castillo, Andres Escobar and Tesho Akindele.
Party like it is 2010
At some point in Friday's game I turned to a couple people and said this is starting to look and feel very similar to 2010. Those folks were with the team back then and immediately agreed. Sure, FCD has done this remarkable run through the summer months against some of the weaker sides in MLS but getting a win like this at home against a team like RSL is starting to show the league that this team is truly ready to be back on the big stage again.
But looking back and comparing that team that went to Toronto in 2010 to this year's side isn't too far off. Back then FCD had a hot striker in Jeff Cunningham, today Castillo is the hot striker. In 2010, FCD had killer speed on the wings with young players like Brek Shea and veteran Atiba Harris. Back then the spine of the team was solid thanks to guys like Daniel Hernandez, Ugo Ihemelu and Kevin Hartman. Toady it isn't too far off with Victor Ulloa stepping up, Matt Hedges becoming a big time leader and Raul Fernandez being a steady keeper in goal.
The big difference continues to be the creative playmaker in the midfield. Obviously back then David Ferreira was lighting up the world with his MVP season. This year could have been that for Mauro Diaz but I wouldn't be shocked if he doesn't find a way to move into a second gear by the time the playoffs roll around.
And about that foul
I thought about not touching on 'the foul' that changed this game but it was hard not to. Yes, Perez embellished the push from Chris Schuler a bit much but at the end of the day, Schuler was lucky to finish that game. I will be absolutely shocked if the red card isn't appealed by FC Dallas and if Schuler isn't fined and suspended for the lovely "endangering the safety of his opponent" line.
The thing is that foul changed the game for FC Dallas almost for the better. It opened up the space that the team needed to use to run at RSL. And it forced RSL to shot more from distance instead of working into the penalty box. FCD's defensive line held strong because of being a man-down, their line stayed true and kept RSL from working their way into the penalty box for 90 minutes. The one exception was the RSL goal of course, which may have been more of a product of tired legs than anything else.