We went into July thinking that six points may be all FC Dallas needed to get to call it a decent month after what happened to the team in May and June. Now we're two games done in the month and six points have been taken after a 2-0 win on Saturday over Orlando City SC.
Changes worked out for Oscar
One thing Oscar Pareja is always willing to do is try players in different spots. He isn't afraid to gamble with that as his depth is already limited in certain spots. Throw in the Gold Cup call ups that ravaged the roster this month and Pareja was left with another set of games that required some changes. That is what he did with Ryan Hollingshead here as he made the switch to full back again this past weekend.
Now we've seen Hollingshead in this role a couple times already this season, mostly in the US Open Cup games and maybe a league game or two. The early return wasn't as great as we'd hope for but maybe that was also because he was opposite of Michel on the other full back spot. This weekend however he not only showed well but I may think that Pareja has found Hollingshead's best new position. The California native is versatile after all, but we've seen games more so in the last couple months where he just loses the game when he is playing further up the field on the right wing.
Is Pareja going to stick it out with Hollingshead from here on out at right back? I'm not entirely sure. Should he consider making the full switch? I do think it is worth looking at more as it does give him the options he needs around the midfield when guys like Tesho Akindele return from national team duty.
A win they had to get
Let's be real honest for one moment. This was a game that FC Dallas had to win. To go on the road and play a Kaka-less Orlando was always going to be a much easier game than playing against them with the Brazilian legend. Orlando lacked a serious punch in the midfield and in the attack without Kaka and Cyle Larin. As much as I like Pedro Riberio as a player, he doesn't bring enough to the attack and credit needs to go to Kellyn Acosta and Victor Ulloa for shutting him down.
Games like this go a long way as we move closer towards the big playoff push in the late summer and early fall. FC Dallas isn't great on the road as we all know but when you get wins in places like this when you are suppose to, people will begin to notice before long.
I look at the standings right now and see a log-jam in the West.
With all the teams playing a different number of games at this point (why on earth has Sporting KC played four less than LA?), going with the straight points in the standings to see who is better than who is a little misleading. The big value right now is that points-per-game number, which actually shows FC Dallas as the top dog in the West...and in the entire league. Yep, we're just a shade better than D.C. United's 1.67 PPG. That makes Saturday's game really big folks.
I also like pointing out the number of losses column. After SKC, FC Dallas has the second least amount of losses in 2015 in MLS.