FC Dallas saw their six game unbeaten streak come to an end on Saturday night with an unexpected 3-0 defeat at the hands of struggling Vancouver Whitecaps. A first half own goal from Maynor Figueroa set the tone for what was to be a bad night at the office for FCD, before Jordan Harvey and Kekuta Manneh compounded their misery with second half strikes. Despite this loss, Dallas remain atop the standings while Vancouver, who finally managed to score from open play for the first time this year at the eighth time of asking, have climbed off the foot of the table.
Not the brightest of starts for Dallas in the first of a three-game road trip, but still multiple things to take out from this fixture from both sides of the spectrum.
Even though Dallas ended up losing this by a comfortable scoreline, the result didn't really reflect the team's performance on the day very well. Offensively the team looked lively, managing to create as many as eighteen opportunities, which is more than they mustered up in each of the last two outings and the most they've had in any away game so far this year. They didn't manage to score a goal, half of which was down to inefficiency from the attackers and half that was down to a stellar display from Whitecaps keeper David Ousted, but no one could fault the efforts of the team up front to create so many chances.
Arguably an even bigger positive was the return of Mauro Diaz to the pitch for the first time since the win at DCU last month. Despite missing the last four games, the Argentine didn't take long to settle into the groove of things and fared well after coming on off the bench with a decent cameo showing. Inevitably there'll be some rust to shake off before Diaz can return to where he left off before his injury, but the great thing is that he's finally back and that can only be a major positive for this FCD team.
Defensively, we saw some of the same issues that were already apparent in the earlier games and perhaps maybe brought even more to light by the absence of injured captain Matt Hedges. Atiba Harris, who started the first two games of 2016 at right-back and hadn't started since being removed at halftime in the Houston match, once again played there with Ryan Hollingshead taking a breather. And just like before, he was once again exposed every time he left space behind trying to overlap. Kekuta Manneh hadn't quite produced the form he had last season going into this game but the amount of freedom and time he was getting on his side was alarming and he proved to be the difference maker in Vancouver's attacking exploits. Harris, for all he can offer going forward, isn't disciplined enough to play as a fullback and his defensive struggles make him a liability at the back, but it's difficult to find other solutions when there is no other right-back in the squad and hasn't been one since the departure of Je-Vaughn Watson.
Chris Seitz had his most disappointing game of the season with him having to shoulder some responsibility in the lead-up to two of Vancouver's goals and his performance may well refuel the debate between him and Jesse Gonzalez for the starting goalkeeper role. The issues with defending set plays and crosses were again exposed as well with the Whitecaps taking full advantage of hurting FCD where they've shown weaknesses so far this year. It'll be interesting to see how Pareja deals with the problems we saw at the back in this game knowing that Hedges isn't going to be back any time soon and by seeing just how much the team is struggling to deal with corners and crosses, with or without Hedges in the side. How this gets addressed is something everyone is itching to see.