There's winning, then there's winning by utter and complete domination over the opponent. FC Dallas managed to do the latter late yesterday afternoon with their 4-1 crushing of the Orange. Not only did this keep Dallas in the hunt for the Supporter's Shield and get Dallas back into the playoffs for consecutive seasons, but it almost mathematically knocks Houston out of the post season too. The loss puts Houston in must an actual "must win" situation the rest of the way for any chance of making it into the playoffs. All in all, I'd say that's a good soccer day for the Kings of Texas.
I have no idea what it is about Toyota Stadium that does it for Hoops. Maybe it's the BOGO Cane's, the crowd, the deathly Texas heat or Tex Hooper's dance moves, but this club just really likes scoring at home. If it seemed like every shot Dallas took against Houston had you "oooh-ing" and "aaaahhh-ing" that's because all but one of them either forced a save out of Tyler Deric or found the back of the net. Take a look at the shooting chart below:
Soccer balls = goals. Green arrows = shots on target. That lone disgusting yellow circle? A blocked shot. Dallas took 12 shots and astonishingly put 11 of them on goal. Now that's a rate that's surely not sustainable but this definitely averages out that Seattle match back in March (Hey! Remember that one?) where both clubs set a league record of registering zero shots on target.
And as the great Michael Scott once put it:
As clinical as Dallas was on the offensive end, they were just as good as on the other side of the ball as FCD were able to hold Houston to just one shot in the first half (albeit that one went in) and to just four in the second half.
Just one shot from forward Will Bruin and nothing from Giles Barnes (honestly, I had to double check to make sure he was in the lineup). This is being over simplistic but if you finish your chances and limit your opposition, chances of winning are higher and the odds are ever in your favor.
More importantly and this cannot be understated, the Dallas defense didn't give up a penalty for Jesse Gonzalez to face! Again, when you don't give up penalties the odds of being scored on are also in your favor. (I blame Drew for tweeting a Hunger Games reference and now it's stuck in my head.)
I would be remiss to not mention Zach Loyd and Matt Hedges' masterful performance for swatting away balls like Leonel Miranda and for the fullbacks for closing down the attackers and preventing them from swinging balls in.
I recall that for the past year I wrote and covered Brad Davis and making sure he couldn't get any crosses in as he was the focal point of the Dynamo attack. Obviously that's no longer the case any more, but it's still mighty impressive when you look at the chart above and only see one cross attempt from Davis and everything else was shut down from that left side.
Oscar Pareja has stated that it takes time for new players to integrate into this side and adjust to the demands of playing in this league. Obviously some players' learning curve is a lot faster than others, but Pareja has remained very patient with his players and we are seeing the fruits of it. It took Michael Barrios a couple of months to settle and now he's locked down a starting spot for this club. It's taken a long, long time but maybe we're finally seeing David Texeira string together consistent performances and enough for him to be the heir to Blas Perez' striker position.
Above are all of Texeira's touches against Houston. Obviously they are not extraordinary by any stretch with him just completing 61% of his passes. What I am encouraged to see is his movement and where he's collecting the ball and distributing it. In some games he's tasked with remaining central but either by design or by his own growth and understanding of the game, we're seeing Big Tex starting to move all over the pitch to the find the game and be a part of the link up play.
Oh, and two goals to go with his improved movement? Me thinks Pareja and the Dallas faithful will take that every game. Please and thank you.