We're in the final two weeks of the preseason and FC Dallas is starting to hit their strides. On Friday night, the club downed Eastern Conference side D.C. United 3-1 after going down a man early on the match.
Sometimes we aren't able to take a ton away from preseason matches but this was one that we certainly could learn a thing or two about this club from. Here are a few things I gathered from Friday's match.
Old habits still show
The most frustrating thing for everyone to see was an early red card to Michel. Most of the guys in the locker room after the match were disappointed that the red card happened but also offered up that it is still preseason and timing on things just isn't there for everyone yet.
Still, like Matt Hedges told me afterwords, these things have to change for this club to succeed in 2015. While it was positive to see the club stay composed for the remainder of the match and still get a solid win, teams in midseason form will take full advantage over situations like that.
Hollingshead is proving his worth
Another knock-in type goal for Ryan Hollingshead on Friday. While the goals in the preseason haven't been pretty for Hollingshead, it really doesn't matter how he scores them. The fact is, he is proving that he very well may be the guy to start at right midfield to begin the season and that isn't a bad thing at all. His work rate is excellent, and he doesn't put his right back in bad spots behind him either, which is good considering Atiba Harris is new to the position and all.
Hollingshead is also in excellent shape at the moment, he may very well be one of the most fit guys on the roster. Oscar Pareja sees that too. He said in the post game press conference that sometimes he would rather give players that are putting in the extra work in training the minutes rather than the guy higher in the depth chart.
"Ryan has put in a lot of work in training. And the offseason for him was very important," said Pareja. He took it very professionally and came in the best shape I have seen him. So that's what he gets: opportunities. And Ryan knows like anyone on the team, that I don't hesitate to play the guys who deserve it. He scored and that's good."
Defense is still a work in progress
Part of it may have had to do with playing a man down for 70-ish minutes. The other part may have to do with Harris being new to the right back situation. But there were moments that Harris and Moises Hernandez left Hedges and Walker Zimmerman out to dry, especially in the second half when D.C. United was mounting a comeback.
I will say though that Harris is showing a lot of promise at right back. His positioning is still getting there, as is his leg work (there were moments were he failed to really turn his hips in the right manner in the penalty box, basically exposing his fellow defenders and keeper). Still, a pair of games into playing a new position and he showing that Pareja had the right idea in placing him in the back there. To me this move is more about also finding ways to move Kellyn Acosta into the midfield rather than keeping him at right back too. This move is also about finding ways to keep Zach Loyd in the middle of the defense as well while also adding some depth to the full back areas.
But in saying all of that, one thing worth pointing out was Mauro Diaz. The Argentine midfielder played possibly the most defense that I've ever seen him play for FCD on Friday in the win. He was active for the entire game, going into tackles that may make some fans cringe a bit. Still, that work rate and energy is a welcome sight.
It was pretty evident that Pareja wanted to get as many minutes out of his starters on Friday as possible. He could have easily done a line-change of subs in the second half but he only opted to go to the bench a couple of times. This is key for a preseason match. The midfield is coming together in a good manner, the attack is hitting its stride at the right times and like I said with the defense, it is getting where it needs to be.
It is starting to look more and more that Dan Kennedy may be the guy to start in goal here. Nothing against Chris Seitz but Kennedy really calmed things down in the back on Friday when the team was down a man. He does somethings in goal that remind me of Raul Fernandez but most of the time he reminds me why Chivas USA was ever in any match that they played over the last four years.
The attack turns it on when it needs to
This could be a running theme early on this year. Late in the game after D.C. tied it up, Pareja subbed out Blas Perez and brought in Tesho Akindele. I know some fans would rather see Tesho start matches but there is something to be said about a big threat like Tesho off the bench. His energy helped spark Fabian Castillo on the night on some real fluid plays that lead to both of the late goals.
The first second half goal from Castillo was a thing of beauty against a pretty good defense too. And Akindele's drawing of the penalty was a very veteran move to make. That is progress that is good to see out of young players.