Providence Park continues to be a tough place to play for FC Dallas as they continue to be winless against the Timbers in Portland. It was just one of those matches where Dallas looked out of ideas offensively, Portland finished all their chances and a rare time that Pareja's tactics weren't able to deliver. It's just the first loss of the season, but this does continue a worrisome trend for Dallas on the road under Pareja's care with FCD picking up just five wins since he returned last season. I'm not sure why there's such a drastic change in form when his team plays away from Frisco, but will be something this team needs to address soon.
Darlington Nagbe: Dallas Killer
It seems like in every sport there's just that one guy that for whatever reason just haunts the opposition like no other. For whatever reason, FC Dallas just brings out the Super Mario Bros 3 Star mode in Darlington Nagbe and defenders bounce off of him like Oompa Loompas. Nagbe wasn't as devastating as he has been in the past, but he was incredibly effective with the ball. Above is his chart that showed off his incredible abilities to maintain possession for his side.
His stats: 24/27 passing, one of which was a misplaced pass off a corner, 1 assist, 3 successful dribbles (zero unsuccessful dribbles). 5 recoveries, 1 interception. And it was his dribble and Dallas' inability to knock the ball off of him that led to that controversial game winner from Urruti.
Last week I questioned if David Texeira had a future at this club given his non-existent performance against the Sounders. This week, he didn't erase those thoughts but he was several steps better than he was last time out.
His stats: 11/16 passing, (4 of the 5 missed passes were headers and 3 of the 5 were inside the penalty box). No shots, which is concerning but the positive is that he's finding the ball inside the penalty box. He was in my opinion, lucky to not be sent off with that elbow in 15th minute to Liam Ridgewell.
It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. The drop off in quality between him and Blas Perez is concerning. I'm still willing to hold out and give him the rest of the season, and while this was a step in the right direction, Dallas really needs more from him.
Zimmerman: Positive Starting Debut
Given how well the Matt Hedges - Zach Loyd pairing had gone this season, I was a little surprised to see that centerback tandem broken up last night. I understood the need to slot Loyd on Nagbe's side as cover and that actually worked out rather well but the disjointedness between the back four showed given the lapse of concentration on two of the three goals came from the defenders.
However, Walker Zimmerman did show us why he was so highly rated in the 2013 draft. It's pretty amazing to think that he's still just 21 years old and has plenty of time and room to grow. Last night he was called into action pretty frequently and did very well against Fanendo Adi. His stats: 2 tackles, 1 block, 9 interceptions, 12 clearances, 1 blocked cross and 3 recoveries, zero corners conceded, only 1 foul conceded. The concerning part was the 12 clearances, which meant he was called into action pretty frequently to just hoof the ball out of danger. On one hand it's a good thing for him to be able to be in those positions but the flip side it means the team's shape was compromised and he had to scramble a bit.
But overall, it was good to see him get minutes and do well in a difficult environment against a hot striker. His health was something I was interested in seeing for 2015 and this was certainly something he could build off of.
Finally, one more concerning issue regarding this Dallas side was Victor Ulloa. This may be a surprise given that I actually thought he played a remarkable game and did rather well overall. My concern though was that from the 8th minute to the 32nd, he didn't have an offensive touch on the ball. He did make a tackle around the 9th minute but after that, he never found the ball. This coincided with Portland gaining a large chunk of possession and basically over ran Dallas and it was during that time frame that they conceded the opening goal.
As important as it is for the team to get Mauro Diaz the ball, it's equally important for Ulloa to get on the ball as much as possible too. His ability to maintain possession, cycle the ball and set the pace for the team is growing substantially and Dallas will need him as the season goes on. It was hard to say if his teammates just couldn't find him or if he went invisible or some combination of the two but Dallas cannot afford to have him go without an offensive touch for any 25 minute stretch again this season without suffering some major consequences.