FC Dallas made it two wins in a row on Saturday night in their second rematch of a 2015 Western Conference playoff meeting in under a week with a 2-0 victory against Seattle Sounders. An early Mauro Diaz penalty got FCD off to the perfect start and while Seattle had their chances to get back into it as the game wore on, the three points were wrapped up by a clinical Michael Barrios finish ten minutes from time.
This victory keeps Dallas in a good position with 23 points from 13 games and in second place in the standings with two consecutive away games coming up once again, in Foxborough and San Jose.
The most pleasing aspect of this game aside from winning the three points was the fact that the team finally managed to keep a clean sheet again. Having allowed goals in each of the last eight fixtures, it was believed that the run would continue here with captain Matt Hedges still missing and Seattle posing threats like Clint Dempsey, Herculez Gomez, and Jordan Morris up front. Although the Sounders had their chances to score here, they failed to take them and FCD's first shutout in nearly two months was at last realized. Oscar Pareja's decision to play the same back four for the third game running paid its dividends.
More relief was found with some of the attacking players getting on the scoresheet again for the first time since the win over Sporting KC in mid April. Diaz scored for the first time since the third matchday of the season while Barrios netted his fifth to become the team's outright top scorer again and although there weren't too many chances that came by on the night, the effective manner in which the team took the ones they had was ruthless and reassuring to see once again.
Despite the efficiency of the team in front of goal, the fact that the team only managed to create five chances from open play is still a concern and a sign that things aren't quite back to their best offensively yet. Not having Maximiliano Urruti in the lineup for the first time this season and Kellyn Acosta being left on the bench in preference of two more defensive-minded midfielders may have had a lot to do with that, but with the likes of Diaz, Barrios, and Fabian Castillo out there, you'd think that this team is still capable of mustering up more than just five attempts in open play throughout 90 minutes. Winning and scoring two goals means that it was a non-issue here as the team took the few chances they got, but for a team that was averaging 15-20 shots a game earlier on in the season, it's clear that there is work to do before things are back to the way they were and should be.
All in all, there's not too many complaints that can be made on the performance that the team delivered on Saturday night. Defensively things have gotten better after a pretty torrid time in the Vancouver and NYRB games, for which a lot of the improvement goes down to Pareja sticking to the same defense for three straight matches for the first time this year. Offensively things can get better, but this was better than what we saw recently as well and it's only a matter of time before guys like Diaz, Castillo, and Urruti explode into form once again.
Slowly but surely, it's all coming together for Dallas and answers are being found to questions that have been asked continuously since the opening matchday. The team is on the right track to reach at least 55 points on its current trajectory which should be more than enough for a top 3 finish and as long things continue on this path, both results and performance-wise, then things should be fine and fears should be allayed over time.