For the second consecutive week, FC Dallas were held to a home draw at Toyota Stadium, this time being a 2-2 draw against San Jose Earthquakes. SJ had the lead twice through Alberto Quintero and Chris Wondolowski, but both were cancelled out via a Tesho Akindele penalty and a Victor Bernandez own goal. This result leaves FCD on eleven points and placed third in the Western and overall standings ahead of a busy week which includes fixtures away at Portland Timbers and at home to league leaders Sporting Kansas City. Here's five things we learned from this game:
1. No more excuses, Fabian Castillo is way off form and it's becoming worrying. It's fair to say that it hasn't been the best of starts to 2016 for FCD's star Colombian forward. An injury in Game 1, followed by insipid displays in Games 2 and 3, then a hard-working performance in Game 4, before below par showings in Games 5 and 6. He's gone from the explosive difference-maker that we saw last year to the inconsistent, headless chicken version we saw in years prior. Whilst his injury may have been an excuse for his first couple of disappointing games afterwards, it's not an applicable one now and his form is becoming a real worry for the team, especially in the absence of Mauro Diaz which means more pressure is on Castillo to take over and deliver the goods.
2. The defense still looks shaky. And it has been all season with the exception of the first two home games perhaps. While the defense could be thankful for Chris Seitz not letting in several goals against D.C. and Columbus, they can't rely on him to bail them out forever. SJ was defending for much of the game, mainly when they had the lead, but at times they looked more dangerous in attack than FCD did and scored from two of their few chances all evening. Individually it's hard to pin the problems at the back on any single player, but collectively the team is not doing enough at the moment and that's what's leading to other teams creating and scoring chances with relative ease lately. Things need to tighten up and improve at the back.
3. Carlos Gruezo is getting better and better. The Ecuadorian had arguably his best game in an FCD shirt on Saturday evening and is starting to become more comfortable in the team's playing system as well as the nature of the league. On the evidence so far and considering his raw potential, he should be one of the first names on the team sheet and no one would have a problem with it. Gruezo is turning out to be a quality addition to FCD's midfield and considering he's still in his early days here, it's frightening to imagine how far he could go with more time and once he's got a partner fully established next to him in the center of the park.
4. Oscar Pareja is not helping matters by changing the lineup and formation as often as he is doing. Plus the substitutions here didn't make much sense. In this game alone, we saw the team lineup in 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, and 4-4-2 diamond formations. We even saw some puzzling substitutions made with Victor Ulloa coming in for Castillo at a time FCD was looking for a winning goal and Atiba Harris coming on for Akindele which is still hard to understand what the point of that switch was. Considering the question marks raised over the team and who some of the starters are in the goalkeeper, central defensive, and central midfield positions, we still don't have the answers to them and this constant chopping and changing is what's leading to the team's current inconsistency in performance. It's still early days and the results are still satisfactory so it's understandable that Pareja is tinkering a bit trying to find his best formula, but until that happens, certain problems will continue to resurface on a regular basis.
5. Kellyn Acosta, although not at his best, is showing signs of life at last. This was Acosta's first game since the Houston humiliation playing in the center of midfield next to Gruezo and even though it wasn't a stellar showing, we saw more from him and the pairing worked better than it did last time it was tried out. Improvement is still required in order for Acosta to keep his place in the team with Victor Ulloa playing well when he got the chance, but from what we saw here, it may be the start of an upward turn of form for the 20-year old. If Acosta can get back to the level he was at last year, FCD will have a big addition in midfield.