Congratulations to Kellyn Acosta for grabbing last week's Workhorse of the Week grand prize! Fantastic effort from a fantastic, young player. Don't spend all those prize winnings in one place.
And a quick note - last week, I was at a conference and didn't have a laptop handy to properly put together a more complete Workhorse of the Week article. My schedule will likely be the same over the next few weeks in the midst of vacation, so I apologize if things get a little messy in this series.
Back to this past weekend's game against the pathetic Portland Timbers, home field advantage is a hell of a thing.
I'm a pessimistic fan, and after the disappointment of that late spring swoon, FC Dallas is back again looking like the best the league has to offer without big names. I still feel, like many of you, that this current streak could be a house of cards that crashes down to earth with the slightest Texas breeze. But while its going, let's savor it.
I remember a few years ago, then coach Schellas Hyndman made a big point about the importance of 40 points in the race to secure a playoff spot. While the league has changed quite a bit and 40 may not quite be the safe spot, FCD's recent resurgence has solidified the team as in the mix for the shield. It's still way early, and lots can happen. But, darn, it feels good to see this team becoming more than a free kick specialist (Michel), a passing wizard (Mauro Diaz), or speedy winger (Fabian Castillo). Michael Barrios' two goal performance shows what it takes for a newcomer to adjust to this league - patience, time, fitness, and determination. I hope he continues to emerge, because it will only make Fabian's job easier.
Overall, this was an excellent team effort, pretty dominant throughout. Was this their best overall performance of the season? Absolutely. Minus the late penalty kick, which was disappointing, there isn't too much to gripe about. Our defenders are clicking, our midfield is on fire, and we are getting enough out of our strikers (albeit lacking some goals).
The question is - who will you cast a vote for this week's Workhorse of the Week? Which player did not show up in that box score but made everyone's job a whole lot easier? Cast your vote below.
This Week's Strong Recommendations
Let's take a moment to recognize that while Castillo didn't have his typical goal scoring game, he played his part terrorizing Portland's defense and opening up space for other guys, like Michael Barrios, to shine. Any team is going to have to game plan to stop a guy like Fabian. That creates opportunities for others to step up. And if they do, it means we are asking opponents to basically pick their poison. Fabian had a quieter game, but he was still incredibly active all over the field. Let's give him some votes.
Kellyn Acosta had a potential MotM type game, so let's turn back to Victor and offer him some support. I've noticed that Victor is trying to find wrinkles in his game to contribute. He is very active on set pieces and corners, for instance, and if he can be some danger, it will cause fits to our opponents. The guy is the definition of a Workhorse. Efficient passing, great work rate, and tireless defending. Awesome.
If people who aren't big fans of Atiba are praising him, he's turned in a solid performance. Let's acknowledge that this guy may still have some ways to go to earn our confidence and trust back, but against Portland, he had a heck of a game.