The biggest talking spot going into the match, this week, was how FC Dallas was going to handle missing seven players, including three on the back line. Looking back, it really didn’t have any affect on the match. No disrespect to DC United, but with their lack of attacking bite, there probably wasn’t a better matchup for FC Dallas this week than United. DC had a couple of opportunities to score and put some pressure on Dallas but just couldn’t convert, including a makeup penalty call. As we start to get a more full picture of what FC Dallas is doing on the field, the Houston match is becoming more of an outlier than anything. Nine points through four games with three shutouts, another great start to the season. Let’s see how the players graded out.
Maximiliano Urruti (A+) – Even with Urruti scoring in three of the first four matches this year, the most impressive thing he has shown is his work rate. He never stops running. There were so many times Saturday afternoon that Urruti would track back to the defending third to help out. In fact, Maxi’s constant pressure set up the first goal. By closing in on the DCU backline while they were playing out, he caused some confusion allowing Barriors to jump on the ball and get a free look on goal. On the second goal, Urruti was smart enough to run at the CB in front of him, freeing Barriors to run in the space left open and score again. Lastly, on the third goal, Maxi did a great job to stay wide of Fabian as well as onside to receive a perfect pass setting him up for his third goal of the year. Great performance from our striker.
Fabian Castillo (A) – Did a great job of playing within the game. Fabian didn’t see a lot of the ball since Dallas was working down the right side, but stayed engaged. He did a great job tracking back and helping Guillen defensively. It was good to see him get an assist to reward him for his hard work throughout the night.Technically speaking, I would argue that his assist on Saturday was one of his best to date. Perfect pace, perfect placement and perfect timing.
Mauro Diaz (A) – Just as Urruti, keeps scoring, Maruo keeps showing up on the score sheet as well. Somehow, Diaz continues to impress on a weekly basis. We’ve come to expect him to stop on a dime, embarrassing midfielders who are trying to chase him down. This year, we’re seeing him run at defenders with ball and just feeding the ball to his countless options. It’s become another wrinkle that teams are going to have to account for, only allowing more space for the attacking players going forward.
Carlos Gruezo (A) – I’ve really enjoyed watching Carlos figure out the MLS game. He continues to be a tank on the field, destroying anyone in his way. His ability to close in on ball, and dispossess midfielders looks so natural. When he mans up a midfielder who has the ball, he always has great positioning, closing off angles and any other options the player had. I really enjoy that for the most part, he stays on his feet. It points to how good he is at his craft. He had DC United so frustrated that they would just stop their runs and look for a foul anytime he bodied them up. I’m excited to see how he does this week against Columbus and their midfield.
Victor Ulloa (A) – Victor does all the little things so well. He is constantly scanning the field and filling the gaps that are left by the other midfielders. He runs as much as anyone on the team but it’s to let everyone else get forward. It seems like this year he has done a better job of playing the ball forward once he dispossessed the other team. At times, last year, he would just boot the ball down the field hoping to connect with wingers. He seems to be seeing the field a lot better playing direct balls to the midfielders.
Michael Barrios (A+) – What a game. Two great goals. Barriors’ finish on that first goal was a thing of beauty - hitting side netting with a weak footed finesse shot. The second goal was set up by Michael flicking a Hollingshead header on to Maruo and then continuing his run into space and chipping the goalie. It was good to see him get going. He didn’t allow DC United to breath all day. He was constantly causing havoc on the back line.
Ryan Hollingshead (B+) – I understand Ryan can look like a baby deer learning to walk from time to time, but I love his lanky frame. He does a great job of using it to his advantage. He is able to track back on defense with that long stride and is able to cut off over the top long balls with his height. He has actually set up a couple of goals by heading long balls back to Barriors, immediately getting play going back the other way. It seemed like there were a couple of times on Saturday that communication broke down between him and Lloyd, but they scrambled back and put out any fires.
Matt Hedges (A) - Matt has become such a staple to our backline that I tend to forget how good he really is. His ability to see a weakness and shift over to help out goes understated in my opinion. He was constantly shifting left to help Guillen defensively. Also, Matt is tough as nails. When he picks up a knock and is barely able to walk off the field, he finds a way to get back out there. He really is the perfect captain and I was glad to see him lead another shutout effort on Saturday.
Zach Lloyd (B) – Zach seemed a bit rusty in this one. There were a couple of times he was caught flat footed allowing DC United attacking players to run past him. Luckily for him, he hasn’t lost his gift of last ditch defending and was able to help defuse the situations. His ability to tackle people in the box without getting a foul is amazing. It was good to see him back out on the pitch and hope that he is able to get back into playing form after his injury.
Aaron Guillen (B) - You could tell Aaron was a bit a amped up starting the game. He had a clumsy challenge right outside the box early in the match, conceding a free kick situation. There were also a couple of times he seemed to get turned around on some quick, one touch passing by DC United, but was able to adjust clear the ball. He did eventually settle into the match and started playing well. I enjoyed that he was looking at playing the ball out of the back instead of just hoofing it long. It showed what kind of player he can become. Overall, starting his first game on the road and getting a shutout, couldn’t ask for much more from him.
Chris Seitz (A) – ‘Oh Baby Setiz!!’ It was so good to see Chris back in goal on Saturday. He didn’t show any effects of rust and looked great. He was attacking the ball in the air and controlled his box. It appeared he was seeing the game just fine, making adjustments to deflected shots and parrying shots out of danger. Even though it was a terrible PK, Chris did get the first save of the year. I was really happy for him to get the shutout. Dallas is lucky to have a backup keeper with his quality. There are quite a few teams that could use his services right now.
Oscar Pareja (A+) - Once again, Oscar pulled all the right strings to make sure that this team went on the road and got a victory. I really enjoy when he sets the team up in a counter attacking formation. It’s so much fun to watch teams push men forward, allowing us acres of space. I’m interested to see what he does next week with Acosta back. Does he leave Victor in there or not? Definitely a good concern to have as the coach.
It’s hard to really grade the subs since DC United was losing 3-0 and down a man when they came into the match. It was nice to see that Ortiz has something in that defensive midfielder role. He looked very comfortable out there. Also, congrats on Pitter getting his first minutes as a professional. Lastly, Rosales is still #77, I was hoping that was a one game fad.
Missing seven players, no problem. FC Dallas appears to be rolling right along. It seems to be someone else every week stepping up right now. Whether it’s Castillo, Mauro, Urruti, or Barrios, someone has had a big game, which points to the depth of this squad. Who will it be this week? Columbus is coming to town and it should be a pretty good barometer for us. Here’s to another 3 points!!
Let me know what you think of the ratings and what y’all think of them.