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FC Dallas vs Sporting Kansas City: What we learned

Three points always look good on this team.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Just because we haven't shared this yet, but here you go:

I love using that gif for every FC Dallas win. Three points in the pocket for the club after a solid 3-1 win on Saturday night over Sporting Kansas City. FCD got two more goals from Blas Perez along with a stellar goal from Fabian Castillo to seal the win, that for now has the boys sitting at the top of the table.

One tweak makes a difference

Steve Davis and I talked about this on the post game show following this game, Oscar Pareja continues to make smart lineup decisions that on first look we may question but in the end they work out. Only one difference in the lineup from week one to week two, bringing Michel in to add a little more depth to the middle portion of the field was a massive addition for the team. More so because of what Michel brings to the table on set pieces alone but also because he and Victor Ulloa have a good chemistry in the middle of the midfield with one another.

I think it is worth pointing out that Michel and Ulloa aren't your conventional midfield duo that gobbles up the ball or applies a ton of pressure on the opposing team. What they do instead is work in smart places, win the ball when they can and find outlets out wide to push the attack. Sure, they do a bit of the dirty work that no one else wants to do but the do it so simply in my mind. They don't overthink things, probably because it is the right mix of veteran leadership in Michel and youthfulness in Ulloa.

Riches on the wings

The other tweak worth noting was bringing Michael Barrios and Ryan Hollingshead off the bench. I told some folks in the press box on Saturday that Pareja's bench may have been the strongest he's had since he arrived in Dallas. So much depth in various spots, and so many dangerous players to plug in when necessary.

Pareja played the timing of his subs well this week with Hollingshead too. Sometimes coaches can overthink the room a bit on subs in a game but Pareja has proven he trusts his guys to go for it and when they run out of gas, he has the right player to come off the bench and recharge the team. That is what Barrios and Hollingshead did on Saturday.

I still find it rather funny to think that not even a month or so ago, we were (well it may have just been me) worried about the lack of depth on the wings. Now that Je-Vaughn Watson has re-signed along with what the club has right now, Pareja easily has two to three options on either wing. Now if he could only get some depth in the middle, I would feel super confident in this bunch.

The Diaz of it all

Ah yes, the last point in this game was really the big talk about the subbing of Mauro Diaz. I was a little critical of him on the post game show and frankly after re-watching most of this game, I still am. I do love that Pareja said in his post game press conference that there really isn't anything to how Diaz acted following his substitution from the game. Pareja was similar in his playing days, which means he has already instilled this type of mentality in Diaz here.

Body language is important and Diaz didn't shake hands with the coaches or even want to celebrate with the team on Castillo's goal. But again, this comes down to Diaz being more upset with himself more than being subbed out of the game. This kind of passion is good to have in a young guy and I am fairly confident he will rebound in the next week or two to prove to Pareja that he shouldn't have been subbed.

But this is the issue right now with Diaz, similar to how things were with David Ferreira in the end. The team plays differently and sometimes better without him on the field. That may be a hard truth to accept but it is for right now. A lot of it has to do with the fact that like Pareja said in his post game talk, is that Diaz spent a lot of his time here with the club hurt. He got banged up in 2013 after he arrived and he spent most of last year injured as well. That is valuable time away from the club where he could be building chemistry and connections with his teammates.

I think this is a situation where time does cure it all with both Diaz and the club. Pareja and Diaz have to figure out a way for him to be on the ball more. It is simple as that in my mind. For a player like Diaz, he needs the ball at his feet with players running in the passing lanes around him. Right now, he just isn't getting that or he is a half-step in front of them or a half-step behind them. See what I mean here:

Again, time will cure everything. And as long as Diaz stays healthy this season he will be in the discussion for league MVP.

Other observations:

Crowd lacking again. For the second straight week, FCD had a very sad looking crowd. On TV it may have come across differently because the East stand is doing a fair job at looking more full by the week. It also didn't hurt that SKC brought in about a 1000 fans. But the west stand is so empty in places, which is really concerning. A lot of this comes down to marketing and what the club is doing there. I'm willing to bet it will turn around in the coming weeks though.

Great save by Seitz. I'm not overly concerned by the penalty call but I am more impressed with Chris Seitz and his third penalty save with FCD. I think once again the starting role is his to lose.

Defensive improvement. FCD was under a TON of pressure in this one from a good SKC attack. This was a good test to see how the defensive line could hold up under pressure. Zach Loyd continued to be the guy in the back that contained the speed while Matt Hedges calmed things down. Also, Moises Hernandez did pretty well at dealing with Graham Zusi's pressure all night.

Oh Kyle Bekker. Nothing like introducing yourself to the faithful with this: