One day, I will be writing this at the heels of an MLS Cup victory. Alas, it is not this year, but that day will come. FC Dallas entered Sunday’s playoff match against the Seattle Sounders down 3-0 and needed at least three goals to keep the series alive. Things looked promising when Tesho Akindele found the back of the net in the 25th minute and the club entered halftime with a 1-0 lead. But a fatal mistake and the inability to finish their chances would eventually see Dallas bow out of their historic double-winning 2016 campaign.
Mauro for Mauro
Mauro Rosales has done some cameo appearances for Mauro Diaz, but this was the first time we got to see it in full action where Rosales was given the keys to offense and was tasked to drive this team to victory. Like wine and not milk, Rosales has gotten better with age and oozes class on the ball. Rosales tucked himself onto the right side, combining with Michael Barrios and Atiba Harris down the right flank.
Dallas ended up sending in a lot of crosses in, which isn’t a bad thing with how low Seattle’s back line was set up. And if you’re going to be forced to cross the ball, there’s no better crosser on this team than Rosales.
It remains unclear what Dallas’ plans are in terms of replacing Mauro Diaz, but for now, Dallas is in pretty good hands just sticking with the other Mauro while giving time to HGPs Paxton Pomykal and (hopefully) Jesus Ferreira to develop.
After a bit of a shaky start to his MLS career (5 yellows in first 7 games), Gruezo has steadily been one of the most consistent performers for this club. Last night we witnessed him really unleash his full range, both offensively and defensively, in a crucial playoff match.
Here he is just going everywhere he can to get on the ball and getting it out to the wings quickly to launch the Dallas attack. You’ll notice that he didn’t miss much and when he did, they were usually long direct passes into the opposition territory.
Then on the defensive side, we saw Gruezo really play to the urgency that the situation called for. Down 3-0, the time to press and get the ball back was now. From the chart above, you can see how much higher Gruezo was up the pitch and how much pressure he was putting on Seattle to get the ball back inside Seattle territory.
I have no idea what Fernando Clavijo and company said to convince Gruezo to come to Dallas, but here’s to hoping they work their magic this off-season and bring in a few more of Gruezo’s caliber.
If there’s anything Dallas should be disappointed with about the season, it would be the lack of a finishing touch in the waning moments of the season. FC Dallas put up a season high 23 shots on Sunday night but only 6 managed to be on target.
Where Dallas failed the most last night was getting more shots on target. Had half of their missed shots made their way to Stefan Frei, you would find Seattle’s defenders stepping up more to challenge the shooter, which in turn opens up the spaces behind. Instead Seattle decided to stay back and it worked out all too well for the visitors this time.