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Scratching the Chalkboard: Game of Three Periods

Yes, the game is played in halves but somehow this one was perfectly divided up into three periods for us.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

*There are a several large gifs in this one that'll take some time to load.

For those who stayed at Toyota Stadium through all the rain and lightning and made it to the very end, you're crazy but I hope you ended up leaving with plenty of stories to tell. For me, it was one of the odder matches that I've covered in my short tenure here at BigD. Of course the laughable moment was having our managing editor and our "insider" Drew take this one off, leaving the rest of the staff scrambling to dig up the rules and restart updates. But that's exactly what makes sports fun; you just never know what's going to happen and you just try your best to seize the moment and make it yours. Thankfully that's exactly what Dallas did, at least for the first 43 minutes before lightning struck and altered what could have been the ultimate offensive onslaught this team has given the home crowd. For me, this match could easily be broken up into three distinct periods, where one main theme dictated the narrative of that frame, so let's dive right into them!

Goals on Goals on Goals

You've probably heard by now that Fabian Castillo's goal in the 29th second (yes, second) was the fastest in FC Dallas history in MLS play.

fabian
For the laugh of me, I cannot understand why Greg Vanney lined up Nick Hagglund, a decent CB when played as a CB, against one of the fastest players in the league. More confusing, was why after Hagglund was badly outplayed, Vanney allowed him to stay there even though he had Justin Morrow, an actual right back who once featured for the USMNT was on the field as a CB.

Fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again.

Or can you?

fabian x2
Yes, finally after that Vanney wised up and realized that you can't match up a CB against Castillo, but the damage had been done and it was far too late. Unsurprisingly, Castillo was a beast all night, showing off his trademark speed with his ankle breaking moves.

Castillo

Castillo ended the evening going 6/10 on take ons.

It was the perfect start and the perfect response after getting embarrassed at home the previous weekend against a Colorado side that was on an 18 game winless streak. It was also the perfect display of Dallas' counter attacking style that pushed them back into the playoffs in 2014. I was concerned last week after Portland and Colorado seemed to have figured out how to force Dallas into a possession game, but thankfully Pareja got this team better prepared and they executed it flawlessly.

Possession

Dallas rarely had the ball more than Toronto did in any given 5 minute stretch, in fact in the first 43 minutes Dallas had less possession (36.5%) at that point, than it did against Seattle when they played a man down. But it's clear at this point that without Mauro Diaz out there, Dallas needs to concede possession and just break on the counter like they did against Toronto.

The Lull

There was no way that after a 3 hour 475 minute break between action due to the rain that Dallas could maintain their level of intensity. Toronto would have had enough time to regroup and fix all the tactical problems (CB covering Fabian) they had, and they were also down 3-0 and if nothing else, were willing to just hustle harder to ensure they didn't lose by a wider margin.

From minute 43 on to about the 78th minute, the game was a drag. Dallas was just happy to keep the ball to wings (as they should have) and just keep everything in front of them and protect the lead without risking injury. They only registered two shot attempts in that time frame as well.It was pretty awful to watch, but it was exactly what needed to be done.

Lull

Giovinco Time

Oh, so that's why TFC opened the checkbook for this guy. It was pretty clear already before his brace that he was a special player for this Toronto side, but those two goals were something else. Once we crossed the 78th minute mark, we entered into Giovinco Time where it seemed like he channeled his inner Fabian and decided he would take on this entire Dallas side single handedly. And he nearly pulled it off.

Before this one began, Sebastian Giovinco averaged 4.25 shot attempts per match, good for third in MLS, so we already knew he was going to shoot a lot, but I did not expect Dallas to basically give him a free pass to Chris Seitz' goal like they did.

Chance Creator

Of Toronto's total 18 shots against Dallas, Giovinco either took or created 10 of them. In math terms, that's a lot. Dallas did well to limit most of them to outside the box, but collectively as a team, they still needed to do better.

Giovinco

I know several of you are ready to point the finger at Je-Vaughn Watson but let's remember that Giovinco is an elite MLS player. Yes, Watson should not have gotten that close to Giovinco, but why was Zach Loyd so slow to slide over to help when Matt Hedges had the runner covered? Had Loyd stepped, he probably could have forced Giovinco to pass rather than shoot. That being said, it took the Italian maestro to pull out his bag of tricks to beat Seitz. I can only think of a handful of players capable of doing that in this league. (Mauro Diaz, Kaka, Higuain to name a few.)

And remember, just a few minutes earlier, Watson did tackle Giovinco successfully on a very similar play.

watson tackle

Free kick

Yes, Watson fouled Giovinco to set up this free kick. But look at it. There was only one place he could have have put that out of Seitz's reach and he did. It took a world class player two moments of brilliance to break down this Dallas side. Granted, you never want the best player on the opposing team to beat you but if he does, you want him to do things of this high degree of difficulty.

In the end, it's still three points. Dallas could have poured 3-4 more had the weather not interrupted the game and given us a wild finish to a crazy evening/morning. As I'm sure Pareja would say, just take the points regardless of how weird the game was and focus on Friday. Yes, we get Colorado again and I'm sure there are players who want to prove "that" game was a one off.

Finally, rather than leave you guys with those gifs, how about this one of Castillo literally putting defenders on the floor.

castillo