It would be hard to give this article's focus to anyone else but Michael Barrios after his performance against D.C. United Saturday afternoon. Barrios had his breakout game of the season, tallying two goals to push FC Dallas to a 3-0 win despite having seven players on the roster missing due to international duty. Let's take a look at a couple of the things he did well at RFK on Saturday.
Sometimes, you get lucky. Sometimes, you work and that work gets paid off. For Barrios, it was a little of both that led to both of his goals. Yes, D.C. United didn't have the best defensive communication which led to open space for Barrios to make a play, but at the same time, it was Barrios' effort that got him in place to pounce on the mistake.
On Barrios' first goal, it might be about Maximiliano Urruti as it is Michael here. Immediately after Ulloa heads the ball, they see how it might land past DCU's Kemp and Boswell and chase it down. Urruti does great to apply pressure on Boswell while Barrios comes from the outside and uses his speed to take the loose ball after what turned into a decisive tackle by Maxi. Sometimes, you'd rather be lucky than good –– or both.
On his second, Barrios' effort is much more intentional. He heads the ball on to the feet of Diaz and starts to overlap him right away. With his speed, there's no chance Sarvas can keep up with him as he's completely flat-footed once Barrios starts the attack. Ultimately, his effort is rewarded as Diaz plays him on and the young Colombian cooly finishes to the far corner, giving him a brace and Diaz a league-leading fourth assist on the young season.
Change of Pace
Now, it's certainly true that outside of his two goals, Barrios wasn't incredibly active on the pitch. He only completed 12 of the team's 301 passes, but what he showed Saturday was his ability to be the team's main attacking force on an afternoon when Fabian Castillo was playing much further back in order to assist young homegrown defender Aaron Guillen in his MLS debut. Barrios did this well, of course, creating a chance and completing all of his passes in the attacking third. He also tacked on two clearances and a tackle.
Barrios doesn't have to be the sort of guy who's all over the field generating offense and connecting the defense to the attack. Simply, he must be a release valve for the offense at times when either Castillo is ineffective or out of commission in the way he was Saturday. If Barrios can score on chances that he's on the end of, he'll have served his purpose. While he possesses the same speed as Fabian Castillo, he doesn't have the same strength to be as effective in take-ons so it seems that Barrios has already found his niche as the sort of player who will pounce on defensive mistakes and finish consistently –– proven by his nine goals on 23 shots, a 39 percent rate.