The second game of a busy stretch and FC Dallas has won another match. Anytime you can get six points out of a week, you will take it. FCD was able to hold on Friday evening, a night we have seemed to struggle playing on, by an incredible goal from Maxi Urruti. The match itself probably should have had a couple more goals, but with the help of a few posts, the 1-0 scoreline held up. In any season, a team will have to win games in vastly different ways. Earlier in the week, FC Dallas was able to dismantle Orlando City FC, by scoring four goals. Four nights later, Dallas got another victory, by showing a stingy defense and a timely goalazo. Three points are all that matter and FCD continues to roll on picking them up in bunches. Let’s take a look back and see how the players rated out.
Maxi Urruti (A+) - What a goal!! Such a thing of beauty. Serious question here, has that become the goal of the year for FCD??? Anyway, can anyone other than Maxi do everything right, making runs, beating defenders and getting 1v1 against the goalie to only hit the goal post? He’s hit four or five posts this year already. We can all hope that he is able to get a little luck on his side and those slight misses become goals. As for Friday night, Maxi had another nice match. His runs were great, hold up play was effective and most importantly, he was able to net the winner.
Mauro Diaz (A) - Great in the midfield once again. Mauro was pulling all the strings in the attacking midfield should have ended up on the score sheet. He had a couple of through balls that just weren’t able to be finished by FCD players. Mauro also had a nice shifty play that would have resulted in a goal if not for David Bingham deflecting the ball with his forehead. Overall, a great night for our #9. With FC Dallas traveling to Seattle, and their turf field, this week, it will be interesting to see if Mauro will be in the starting lineup.
Fabian Castillo (B) – Was absent most of the match. Whether due to gameplan or just the flow of the match, Fabian was absent for long stretches of it. The silver lining in the match from Friday night is that Castillo didn’t looked to be forcing situations when he did get the ball. Instead, he was just playing within the game and felt comfortable/confident in the rest of the team to do the heavy lifting. I feel like if this match was earlier in the year, Fabian would have been roaming around the pitch a little more and trying to force things to make an impact. It might be a small thing, but it shows a little more maturity/trust in his teammates, which is nice.
Michael Barrios (A) – Continued on his great form. Michael was able to again, beat people 1v1 on a consistent basis. He wasn’t able to wiggle free for the clear shot at goal but he was able to keep San Jose honest on their defensive shape. Barriors also did a nice job crossing the ball back into the the mixer that eventually lead to Urruti’s goal. He could have tried to challenge Bingham on a very tight angle, but instead crossed it back across the 6 yard box and was able to be rewarded for his efforts.
Carlos Gruezo (A) – I thought Carlos had another good game. Since coming back from Copa, Carlos’ confidence has been at a level we didn’t see at the beginning of the season. He will also be a bull defensively, maybe too much at times - giving up a dangerous free kick right outside the box. The facet of Carlos’ game that I am becoming more and more impressed by is his distributing from the defensive mid position. He is starting to pick out some of Maxi’s runs and playing through balls that are causing havoc on the backline. He doesn’t have any tangible success yet from the passes, but the fact that defenses now have to watch out for him playing balls over the top now too, is a nice wrinkle.
Kellyn Acosta (A) - Another nice match for Kellyn. On Monday, against Orlando FC, Kellyn was roaming with more of an attacking mentality. Friday night, he was having to stay home a lot more. He was able to close down on the Earthquake’s attacking midfielders and did a nice job of funneling the ball out wide for crosses into the box. It seems like Kellyn can run for days, which will always be beneficial with the amount of counter-attacking this squad performs. He continued his excellent form. I look forward to seeing him match up against Clint Dempsey on Wednesday night.
Matt Hedges (A+) - Another match, another clean sheet, another win. Matt is leading a backline that has been outstanding over the last month. Opposing offenses aren’t able to generate anything directly at goal forcing them to go out wide. Once out wide, Matt and Walker are able to easily handle any crosses. His size, lateral movement and overall positioning is great right now. Teams are really going to have to work to get a goal with the current form this backline is in.
Walker Zimmerman (A+) - Like Matt, Walker had another outstanding match Friday night. He was able to track every cross and never got beat in the air. Walker also did a great job of stepping up and bodying up San Jose’s strikers to not let them turn and get a quality shot at goal. It looks like he is also learning from the Zach Lloyd in that his lunging toe pokes in the box are outstanding - getting all ball and no body.
Maynor Figueroa (A) - Maynor has settled into his fullback position quite nicely. Over the past month, he has started to look quite comfortable there. He is in step with the offside trap and isn’t allowing anyone to beat him to the touchline. Instead, he is forcing the opposing players to whip in crosses, which he knows Walker and Matt will handle easily. This defense is flying high right now and looking great. One other about Maynor, his infamous two footed slide tackle made an appearance Friday night, luckily, it was clean, somewhat.
Atiba Harris (A) – Like Maynor, it looks like he has become so much more comfortable over the last month. He is doing a really nice job of playing within the system and not allowing anyone to beat him for pace or really get in any quality service. Atiba was able to get forward a couple of times Friday night and had a couple of crosses. The team right now isn’t really built to get on the end of quality crosses right now. If we get that big striker that we have been promised, we will see Atiba’s stock rise. Overall, a solid night.
Chris Seitz (A+) – For the lack of work Chris had Monday night, he made up for it on Friday night. The most dangerous opportunities came from set piece shots, but Chris was there to answer all of San Jose’s questions. He was able to get another clean sheet and help the boys get another three points. He really has been outstanding this year. It’s been awesome to see, especially with how patient he has been over the past couple of years. You will feel like Chris is a genuinely nice guy.
Oscar Pareja (A+) - Anytime you go out to the west coast, you expect your players to have tired legs. Add on top of the travel, a short turn around, FC Dallas very easily could have come out and put up a goose egg. Instead, they grinded out a victory against a very stingy San Jose squad. Oscar has the squad playing for each other and ultimately him. It’s crazy how many times someone has scored, Castillo, Urruti, Barrios, Kellyn, Tesho and they run straight to Oscar to celebrate. That shows so much about this team. Oscar has another two games this week, so he will have to work so more magic.
Ryan Hollingshead (A) - Was brought on to see the game out. I thought Ryan was outstanding in his limited performance. He was able to utilize his fresh legs to get around Earthquake defenders and just allow some relief for the backline. Surely we will see Ryan this week back in the starting lineup, probably against Seattle.
Victor Ulloa (NA) – Was brought in to see the game out. He fell right in line with Carlos and Kellyn and did a great job of not allowing anything through the middle of the field coming to the end of the match. Helped to hold the lead and ultimately the win.
Tesho Akindele (NA) - Was brought in to see the game out. Was the last sub and didn’t really get a lot of time on the field. Like the Ryan and Victor, Tesho was able to use his energy and fresh legs to pull the weight of some of the other guys.
Winning on the road in MLS is never easy. FC Dallas is one of two teams in MLS with at least four road wins. This win, against a solid western conference foe who hadn’t lost at home all year, was big. FC Dallas is going to continue to play more games than the majority of the Western Conference with CCL coming up. Normally it’s seen as a disadvantage to have played more games than everyone else. If FC Dallas can continue to get play well and get three points at this rate, it will put a lot of pressure on the chasing teams.
We have another two games this week, against Seattle and Chicago. Neither team is a good place right now but if you slip up, it could be point’s that you wish you had at the end of the season. Dallas is in a great place right now and are lucky to be playing as many games as they are. Let’s hope for another six point week!!
As always, let me know your thoughts and if my ratings are spot on or terrible.