In the end, the three points are really all that matters for FC Dallas. How they got to that point is a fairly long and dull story that happened on Sunday night in California as the Hoops beat Chivas USA 1-0 on a Tesho Akindele goal.
Ending that eight-game road winless streak was big though as the month of August started. As we mentioned last week in our August Outlook, getting off on the right start in LA was the way to go for this make-or-break type of month.
Speed was back but not nearly effective early on
Getting Fabian Castillo and Andres Escobar back in the lineup was nice but not nearly as effective as we all would have hoped for in the first half. If anything I think Escobar showed that whatever little knee injury he picked up in training before the Vancouver game was still bothering him last night. He didn't hobble around or anything like that but he was definitely not going at players with ease that we saw when the team dominated New England a couple weeks back.
But this may be the door that opens up for Mauro Diaz to return to the lineup full time again. I know a lot of you were shocked not to see him start this game but the club is continuing to take a slow approach with Diaz and for good reason too. If the team continues to play like this, why wouldn't they take a slow approach to bringing Diaz back into the fold? Why risk more injuries for him if he can be effect in one half like we saw Sunday night? Just things to consider when you don't see him start.
All of that isn't the main point here though, once Escobar was off and Diaz was on we saw Castillo return to his speedy and dangerous self in the second half. He was dangerous on the lone goal and he was even more dangerous when he got the ball at his feet late in the game.
Oh and that run late in the game...boy he was unlucky not to score on that give-and-go with Tesho. Stupid post.
Sound in the back
Shutouts have been a rare thing this season for FC Dallas but when they do happen they are worth pointing out more in detail. As weird as it was, Sunday night felt like a night that FCD just had everything covered and I didn't have to worry about the defense.
Yes it was a bit of a shock to see Zach Loyd in the middle of the defense to start out with instead of Stephen Keel but that may have been more about getting speed on the flanks and exposing the weaker Chivas defense on the counter than having the normal set of players out there. It was a move that didn't shock me in the least bit when the lineups came out too.
But what can you say about Loyd's play over the last month here. I said it last night that he was in beast mode and a couple people were quick to respond to me that it wasn't just last night. Good call folks, good call. I know we worry about the center back depth with this club, and we should, but with Loyd playing at this level right now, I can get why the club hasn't been super quick to make a desperate move like we've seen them do in the past. I'm okay with that.
Because of the stellar play between Loyd and Matt Hedges, not to mention the wing play of Je-Vaughn Watson and Moises Hernandez, we saw that Raul Fernandez really didn't have a ton to do against Chivas. Erick Torres was kept at bay thanks to Loyd and Hedges and there was plenty of open room in the second half for the counter attack.
Three points, so now what?
So getting the three points was really the most important thing on Sunday. It didn't matter that the possession was low or that the chances on goal were limited. What mattered was the result. The winless streak on the road was snapped at the right time before the big playoff push and the unbeaten run continues in league play before a key stretch of games.
If anything this is a game FCD can build off of, even more so than the last couple that came before it. It should prove to this bunch that they can go on the road again and win, even when they didn't play at their very best. It should show that this team is peaking when they should. And it should hopefully show that this team does mean business in a very crowded conference race.
While I don't see FCD passing the likes of LA or Seattle just yet, I do think getting into that third spot in the West is now doable. With so many 'six-point' games ahead, the motto continues to be to take care of business at home and get results like this one on the road. So far, so good.