Going into the game Saturday night, it looked like FC Dallas was going to have a really good shot of winning another home match. With a winless Columbus team coming town and an FC Dallas squad that is rolling right along, it seemed like a no brainer that we would be able to get three points. Once we all saw the starting lineup, we lost a lot of our confidence. The wizard in the midfield, Mauro Diaz, was unable to go, meaning that we were going to have to reshuffle the deck and figure out another way to attack.
Looking back at the match, we see how important Mauro is to our team going forward. We didn’t have anyone able to make that final pass to unlock the Columbus defense. Instead, we had a team that was split off between the attacking players and the rest of the midfield. Even when we brought Tesho in, the offense continued to sputter. Luckily, we were able to scrape out a goal and eventually a point. The plus side to the game was definitely the defense. Minus Maynor getting roasted time and time again, the rest of the Dallas defense did a great job of limiting the Crew’s attack. Let’s take a look and see how the team graded out.
Maximiliano Urruti (A) – It seems like we say it every week, but Maxi’s work rate is off the chart. He never stops running. I hope he is able to keep up this kind of work rate because it makes such a huge difference game in and game out. Saturday night, he did a little bit of everything. He tracked back on defense (sometimes as far as the defensive 18 yard box), dropped into the #10 role to help distribute the ball forward or out wide, and continued to make those great runs. Lastly, what a shot from distance. He was a bit unlucky to get the goal, but I’m sure he will take the unofficial assist on the tying goal.
Fabian Castillo (B+) – Castillo was also very active. Even though he was left on an island most of the night, he was able to get off a few quality scoring chances - possibly even being a bit unlucky to not get a goal on the curling shot from the corner of the 18 yard box. The one thing Fabian did give us was an excellent GIF of him crossing up Finlay and making him fall over.
Kellyn Acosta (B-) – Kellyn was thrown into a role that you could tell he wasn’t comfortable with. As a result, he struggled to control the midfield going forward. He wasn’t able to link up with Urruti or the attackers and continuously got dispossessed by the Crew defensive midfielders. It seemed like he wanted to drift a little further back in the midfield to where he was comfortable, only cutting off the attackers that much more. Kellyn did look a lot more at home in his regular position in the second half. It’s been a weird start to the season for Kellyn, I hope he gets some regular playing time in a single position to help with get that confidence back.
Carlos Gruezo (B+) – With Ullua by his side in the first half, Carlos was free to roam around and make it difficult for Columbus to get anything going down the middle. If you think back to the match, most of the build up success Columbus had was down the flanks and then into the middle. A lot of that has to do with Carlos’ unrelenting badgering of anyone who had the ball. He seems to be getting more and more comfortable out there and staring to look to distribute from that defensive midfielder position as well. The one troublesome aspect to his game is the amount of yellow cards he has accumulated so far - 3 in 5 games. On the flip side, he has won the most tackles in MLS. As he gets more familiar with the style of play, hopefully the yellow cards will slow up a bit.
Victor Ulloa (B) – Ulloa had a solid first half. He wasn’t taken off because of his lack up play, but because we needed more attacking options. Victor is one of those players that the less you hear or see him the better game he is having. His job is to fill passing lanes and make sure that there aren’t any weak spots in the middle of the field, that would leave the backline compromised. He did a really good job of that.
Michael Barrios (B+) – Michael’s link up play with Hollingshead is something to watch. They do such a good job of playing off of each other. For most of the match, it looked like if FC Dallas was going to get a goal, it was going to be from the right side of the pitch. If Barrios, puts his shot from right outside the 6 yard box anywhere else besides right at the goalie, then he gets on the score sheet. Solid game for him, especially figuring he was having to deal with not having Mauro’s service either.
Ryan Hollingshead (B+) – There’s no way Atiba gets his spot back. Ryan has been great the past couple of games. His ability to get up field and make over-lapping runs has been excellent. I do hope for a little more quality on his final touch on those runs, but they still manage to cause quite a bit of confusion. I really liked how Ryan would continue his runs inside once he fed the ball the Barriors. He was about a foot right of getting his first goal of the season with a well placed header. Another solid game from Hollingshead.
Matt Hedges (A) - Once again, Matt played really well. He was able to keep Kamara in check for most of the match. As Maynor continued to struggle at left back, Hedges started shifting over to help out. He is so good at seeing the game and making in game adjustments. Like every week, Matt was able to see any crosses coming in and stepped in front of the attacking players to head it free from danger. He is such a rock back there.
Zach Loyd (A) – Was solid all night. Zach was able to use his nimble feet to scamper in and make a couple of last second slide tackles in the box. Like Hedges, Zach also did a great job of reading the game. When Hollingshead was pushing up the right flank, Lloyd was shifting over to help cover the open space.
Maynor Figueroa (C-) - Maynor struggled most of the night. It was his man who got free, with little to no resistance, on the corner kick goal. Also, Ethan Finlay got behind him time and time again, causing Seitz to come up with some big time saves. Lastly, Maynor didn’t offer much of anything going forward. He stayed so far back defensively, that it put Castillo on an island up front. Maynor is a lot better than he showed Saturday night and hopefully this weekend will show that.
Chris Seitz (A+) – ‘Oh Baby Setiz!!’ Without Seitz’ big saves, this game could have been 3 or 4-1 to Columbus. It seemed like every time Maynor got beat, Seitz was up to the challenge and got back and made the save. Sadly, Chris didn’t even have a chance to make a save on the corner kick goal that was conceded. I said it last week, but it bears repeating. It is such a blessing to have a goalie of his quality backing up Jesse.
Oscar Pareja (B+) - Watching the game initially and thinking about the grades for everyone, I wanted to give Oscar a really low grade. I didn’t like his insertion of Kellyn into the number 10 role and thought it really hampered our attack going forward. Rewatching the match, I understand what Oscar was doing. Even when Tesho was brought in for another scoring threat, the chances still weren't there. I would possibly like to Rosales in the role, since he is use to playing it. In the end, getting a point against a really solid team without your star midfield player isn’t a bad result. I applaud Oscar for that.
Tesho Akindele (B+) - I was excited to see Tesho come on after halftime. We needed some attacking options and he seems to always be able to give the team a spark. After about 10 minutes of him being on the pitch, it seemed like he was running into the same issues as the rest of the attacking players - no service. He battled through it and ended up getting the tying goal. It would have been really easy for him to stop and watch Maxi’s shot, but instead he followed the ball on frame and was able to slam it home.
Mauro Rosales (Incomplete) - He wasn’t on the field long enough to really back an impact. He did have a really nice play where he won the ball in the midfield and fed it to Lizarazo for a would be go-ahead goal. If Diaz can’t go next week, I would like to see Rosales in that role. Give him 70 minutes and see if he is able to make anything happen going forward.
Carlos Lizarazo (Incomplete) - It was good to finally see Carlos on the pitch. In his limited time, it looked like he knew what to do with the ball once he received it going forward. I love how instead of trying to slot the ball in the far corner on his only shot, he tried to do an upper 90 toe poke. It shows confidence, which is always a good thing from your attacking players.
Getting a draw against a really good Columbus team (I don’t care what their record is) without your best player is a good result. Hopefully this was a one week injury for Mauro and he will be back for the next game. If he isn’t, we will need to figure out some options going forward. Oscar has been able to make due without Diaz in the past, hopefully he will be able to do so again. As of right now, we are on pace for 68 points. Obviously, there is a lot of the season to go, but even with a couple of weird matches, we are right where we want to be. Bring on San Jose, and in the words Dan Hunt, "3 more points!!"
Let me know where you think everyone graded out at.