Thrilling is probably not the first or even the 87th word you'd choose when describing last night's affair between FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes. Neither side got forward or threatened the goal very much, and at times, the play on the field felt like a gentleman's scrimmage (you don't hurt us, we don't hurt you). However, given the history of this team (and MLS in general) when away from home, points on the road - even a solitary one - can be lembas bread (for you LOTR nerds) and be the difference in the standings at the end of the year.
We also need to consider the history of the team's road record under Oscar Pareja's helm, which has seen the side actually hold par when it comes to the "win at home, draw on the road" standard.
2014 - 4W 8L 5D - 17pts (1.00ppg)
2015 - 5W 8L 4D - 19pts (1.18ppg)
2016 - 3W 4L 1D - 10pts (1.25ppg)
As long as Dallas hovers around the 1ppg on the road and can take care of business at home (which they have done tremendously), then this team should have no problems finding themselves in the post season and in contention for some regular season silverware. Not to mention, a point on the road against the West is not just a point taken, but also two points stolen from the opposition.
Taking Care of Business
0-0 affairs can be thrilling ones, and from a neutral's perspective, it certainly wasn't one of them, as a member of DTID, that was one of the better team performances Dallas has put together from start to finish, especially on the defensive side.
FCD walked into this one with a -6 goal differential away from Frisco. Correcting that number is always the ideal, but keeping it from bleeding more is going to be acceptable too.
(Green - shot on target. Red - shot off target. Yellow - shot blocked)
Above is San Jose's shot chart against FCD's defense. Aside from Tommy Thompson's header, forcing a diving, yet comfortable, save from Chris Seitz, the Earthquakes barely threatened the goal. On one hand, you will argue that San Jose was missing a large chunk of their attack with Chris Wondolowski, Anibal Godoy, Simon Dawkins and Alberto Quintero getting international call-ups, but the game, especially in MLS, is weird. On paper, San Jose's squad was depleted offensively, so this was about what should have been expected, but we all know the game isn't played on paper and anything could happen.
San Jose preferred going down their right and attacking Ryan Hollingshead. But aside from some key passes, nothing really connected for the Earthquakes, unless the pass was sideways, to the touchline or backwards.
You'll also notice a largely vacant Zone 14 (the space just outside the penalty area) for the Earthquakes attack. If you watch the game again (and I'm sure that's a big if), you'll spot that Zone 14 was constantly occupied by at least one Dallas midfielder and often times by both Victor Ulloa and Kellyn Acosta. There's not stat to track that kind of defensive discipline, but the absence of much happening in there is a sign that the defensive mids for Dallas did their jobs with aplomb.
Forgettable from Lizarazo
This was probably the first time I've ever seen an FCD debutant under Oscar Pareja look so ill-prepared for the game. Lizarazo's performance was akin to Pippin's naivety and the Dallas offense basically died when the ball found him.
(Green square - successful pass. Red square - unsuccessful pass. Orange triangle - recovery. Red pentagon - foul conceded. Red triangle - unsuccessful take on.)
Aside from two decent corners, Lizarazo offered nothing on either side of the ball. This sequence below best sums up his starting debut:
This was surprising given that this is the same coach that prepared Victor Ulloa to start against Portland in 2014, and Aaron Guillen to start a road game as a left back against DCU this year with incredible success. There was absolutely nothing positive coming from this performance, and will do nothing but amplify the calls for
Nazgûl, I mean, Timo Pitter to get those minutes on the wing.
Lizarazo aside, this was a good team performance from start to finish for FC Dallas. Nobody made a major mistake, Seitz' goal was protected, Matt Hedges looked like his usual boss self, Mauro Diaz is regrowing his rat tail and no injuries. Four points from this two game road trip that took Dallas from coast to coast is a good haul and puts the Hoops on a four game unbeaten streak as they refocus on to the Texas Derby on Thursday.