This team is frighteningly frustrating with how streaky they are. On any given day, you could see this team walking all over a team 4-0 and going on a string of games without a loss or being demolished 0-4 and then not see a result of any kind in return for weeks on end. And while FC Dallas is enduring their first three game losing streak of the season, there have at least been some positives for this club to build on. Last week, it took two brief lapses in defense for Robbie Keane and company to put two on the scoreboard. This time, despite playing better than Vancouver for the majority of the match, had one bad break on their defensive end and no luck on the offensive side of things and saw them drop their third consecutive match.
In my last two Chalkboard pieces (here and here), I've questioned Rolando Escobar's inclusion on this squad. I take that all back now as his latest performance against the Whitecaps gave us a better glimpse of what he can do and what his role is with this team as players and head coach Oscar Pareja have adjusted their play accordingly.
Escobar still plays higher up the pitch than I would prefer, taking too many defenders into spaces that Fabian Castillo could use, however his ability to combine and link up with Blas Perez is extremely valuable in unlocking defenses and giving this team another attacking dimension. His versatility and composure on the ball makes him a decent Mauro Diaz substitute, just don't expect him (or anyone really) to play like Diaz.
It's taken a little while, but Michael Barrios is really coming into his own and showing his attacking prowess for this side. Early on we saw the short spurts of how fast and quick he can be on the ball, now we're seeing more of his ruthless abilities taking on defenders, cutting, crossing and scoring. Barrios had a great chance at the top of the penalty box, dancing and weaving around Whitecap defenders but sadly couldn't generate enough power to get his shot past David Ousted.
Not all wide players or wingers are the same, but it's always fun having lots of pace on the flanks and players willing and able to beat the first defender. Barrios had a field day taking on the Whitecaps, going 4/5 on take ons, all in the attacking half and a handful in very dangerous areas. It's also vital for this club for Barrios to maintain this form as teams have found ways to keep Fabian Castillo out of matches for long stretches at a time. None more so that yesterday.
Above you'll see a side by side comparison of all of Fabian's touches by half. As you can see, there was a tremendous drop off in terms of involvement from Castillo for the last 45 minutes. If Castillo is going to be largely invisible for 45 minutes at a time, then someone else needs to step up and be a chance creator. Thankfully Barrios looks up to the task.