Another opening day has come and gone. Like the four before it, FC Dallas came away with the win. Other than a few opportunities against the run of the play, the match was more or less a one sided affair. I thought the team put in a very professional performance and were a bit unlucky to have not been up by more. Whether it was due to a little rust or just an outstanding performance by Andre Blake, The Hoops had to wait until the 79th minute to put this game away. Overall though, the team gelled well together and was able to control the game with relative ease. A nice feat figuring the 1st team only played one game together in the offseason.
I wasn’t too worried about winning the match, since we don’t lose many games at home and Philadelphia overhauled their entire roster in the off season. The most interesting point of the match was always going to be how our new players looked. Let’s take a look at how the players performed.
Maximiliano Urruti (A+) – He never stopped running. His work rate was off the chart. Whether he was going forward or tracking back, he was always around the ball. For this being his first match with FC Dallas, he seemed to be in the right places in the attacking third to open up a lane for that final pass to reach him. Maxi also isn’t scared to shoot, which is a quality that we need from out striker. FC Dallas runs into ruts from time to time trying to make the perfect pass instead of just putting the ball on goal, Urruti definitely does that. I was really happy to see him bag a goal in game one. He can settle in and just play with no pressure going forward.
Fabian Castillo (A+) – Definitely hasn’t lost his speed. He was constantly beating defenders one on one and making things happen. Fabien was probably a little unlucky to have not gotten a second goal. He was all over the field and worked really well the Mauro. Fabian was tracking back quite a bit today too, something that we don’t always see in his game. I’ll be honest and say my stomach sank a little when I saw him go down. Luckily, it sounds like it isn’t too serious. Get well soon Fabien!!
Mauro Diaz (A+) – In Mauro fashion, he controlled the midfield today. With two assists, he is off to a flying start. Our number 10 was able to relieve pressure in the midfield by keeping the ball moving as well as finding that final pass to unlock the Philadelphia defense going forward. He was one of the few players on the pitch who didn’t seem effected by the wind. Mauro also tracked back today giving him a solid all around nice performance, leading him to be the ‘Man of the Match.’
Carlos Gruezo (A) – He definitely didn’t disappoint today. He was like a bulldog that sniffed out the ball and immediately got it back. It seemed like he was able to get the ball back with such ease. He used his speed and strength to muscle Union players off the ball, while staying on his feet. Once he would retrieve the ball, he had the vision to find Maruo or another midfielder to get the ball out of danger.
Kellyn Acosta (B-) – Acosta was very good going forward. He was able to find open channels and run into those lanes. He seemed to lack that final touch today. It looked like he was trying to make the spectacular play instead of the one given to him. That led to a couple of careless turnovers in the defensive half. I’m excited to his role evolve while playing next to Gruezo. Kellyn is going to have the freedom to go forward which will only put more pressure on opposing defenses. It’s a work in progress right now, but the potential is there.
Michael Barrios (A) – His ability to make something out of nothing is a gift. He is just such a hard worker who never stops running or gives up on the ball. Having him bomb down right is just another weapon that defenses have to worry. He definitely deserved a goal today but was denied by the long reach of Andre Blake when he tried to dribble around the keeper.
Atiba Harris (A+) – Atiba was great today. His overlapping runs set up numerous scoring chances. He got to the byline 3 times in the first half alone, leading to crosses and passes back into the box. He was able to push forward without really giving up any chances going back the other way. Atiba did really well closing the gap on the Union wingers and preventing them from whipping crosses into the box. Solid performance that builds excitement to see what he has in store this season.
Matt Hedges (A) - The backline wasn’t test too much today, but when Union would get some play built up, Hedges was there to diffuse any situation. As always, he was great in the air. As always, he was great on set pieces and corners, attacking the ball at its highest point. Another solid performance from out captain, which we have come to expect from Matt.
Walker Zimmerman (A) – Walker had the task of bodying up Sapong today, no easy feat. Not only did he hold his own, but he was consistently able to track the ball in the air and take the ball off Sapong’s feet. He wasn’t bullied around by the big striker, which was nice to see. He was up for the fight today and played really well. Like his center back partner, Walker was great in the air. He attacked the continually attacked the ball. Solid showing today.
Maynor Figueroa (A) - Maynor was solid today, so much so, there were points in the match were you forgot he was on the pitch. I thought he did a good job of limiting the times he went forward as to not bring any more defenders Fabien’s way. Like Atiba, he closed down well on the Union wingers, not allowing any dangerous crosses in the box. Professional performance.
Jesse Gonzalez (A) – Jesse wasn’t really tested that much today, but when he was called on, he made the save. The save on Le Toux was a split second decision that he successfully pulled off. Jesse seems to be full of confidence in net, barking out orders and distributing out of the back. He was very aggressive on set pieces, eliminating the threat danger. It’s always nice to start off the season with a clean sheet. Here’s to many more.
Tesho Akindele (B+) – Tesho would have a higher score if he had played more. I love the attitude he has when he comes off the bench. It would be really easy in 2-0 game to just see it to the finish. Instead, he wants more. Tesho wants on the score sheet. He looked hungry today and was a bit unlucky to not come up with a goal today. With Fabien out for a couple of months, it seems like Tesho will be the guy getting the minutes.
Victor Ulloa (NA) – Really didn’t see much of the ball in his limited time on the pitch.
Mauro Rosales (NA) – Had a nice chip over the top to Tesho, but wasn’t in long enough to really make a difference.
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Game 1 is now in the books. Only 33 more to go. It’s going to be a long season, but I am encouraged/excited about what I saw on the pitch today. If this team continues to gell together, it can possibly be a special year. Now on to Houston.