Following a dismal performance midweek, FC Dallas was looking to bounce back against an up-and-down Chicago Fire team. A squad that hadn’t won an away game in two years, but also a squad that had beaten Sporting KC the match before. In a lot of ways, Saturday night could have been a trap game. FCD could had very easily been looking ahead to a semifinal match against Houston Dynamo or the big game at the end of the week against Colorado. Instead, they came out, dominated the play, and had a pretty convincing win against a team they should beat. Let’s get right into it and see how the team has graded out this week.
Maxi Urruti (A) - Another win and another nominee for goal of the week. Maxi didn’t have to do as much this time since Fabian did the majority of the heavy lifting, but he did still have to finish and ultimately not hit the post. Maxi had another solid game. I would say by this point we all know who Maxi is as a player. He is a hard worker, who makes smart runs, isn’t scared to shoot and will end up bagging a few goals for you. I have enjoyed the pickup and hopefully this good run of form will continue. He has already matched his goal total from last year (5) and still has a chance to catch his 10 goals from 2014.
Mauro Diaz (A) - Ended the night with a goal and another strong showing overall. Mauro was getting forward a little more Saturday night than he usually does. With Chicago sitting so deep, it allowed Mauro time on the ball to distribute where he pleased. When the Fire would press him, he would wiggle free and then find an open player. Mauro might have been a little unlucky to walk away with only the one goal to show for his efforts, but what a goal it was.
Fabian Castillo (A+) – It seems like every week it’s the same thing. Fabian is back and he is playing out of his mind. He looks so comfortable out there right now. Fabian is now tied for 12th in the league in assists and has five goals to along with it. He looks to be streaking at the right time again. He is making smart plays with the ball. Not forcing anything and ultimately allowing his teammates to pull their own weight. I don’t think there's any coincidence to this team going on a roll right around the same time that Fabian started getting hot. Lastly, that first assist. Who does that!? It was such a thing of beauty. Let’s hope Fabian continues this play and helps FCD get two more good results this week.
Michael Barrios (B+) – Was quiet for a lot of the first half since the ball was running through Fabian on the other side of the field. Whenever Michael started getting the ball in the second half, he came alive. He was attacking and was probably a bit unlucky to not getting a goal on the evening. Overall, another good night for Michael, even though the score sheet won’t show anything.
Carlos Gruezo (A) – Another nice match for Carlos. His ability to do the little things right is something else. There are times in the games where you feel like he has disappeared. Instead, he is just covering the back four and roaming around like crazed animal. It’s been nice to see him adjust his game to MLS and slow down the accumulation of yellow cards that he was receiving earlier in the year. Also, the intensity and physical nature of the FCD dropped slightly when Blas left, but it seems like Carlos has now taken up that mantle. As he showed Saturday night, he isn’t scared to get in your face if he feels you came in a late, even if the game is out of reach.
Kellyn Acosta (A) - Very active again. Carlos’ and Kellyn’s partnership has been a thing of beauty lately. They know when each other are making runs and have done a great job of covering. Kellyn’s offensive improvements have been the story over the last month-month and half for myself. He is picking people out from a deeper position and becoming dangerous at it. Kellyn left the night with one assist and was a Barriors finish away from another. Let’s hope his young legs can keep up with these two upcoming games, the second being in altitude this week.
Matt Hedges (A) - Name me a centerback who is playing better than Matt Hedges right now? I would argue that you can’t. Matt has been playing at a higher level than even we are use to seeing, which is saying a lot. His shoulder to shoulder tackle in the box where flicked the ball to himself was something else. He has all the confidence in the world right now and is seeing the game perfectly. Hopefully Matt is in both games this week. The stability he brings to the backline will be tested, but I’m sure he is up for it.
Aubrey David (B+) - This was really the first game that FCD fans got see to what Aubrey had to offer as a player. After Saturday night’s performance, I liked what I saw. The first thing that stood out was his size and athletic ability. Too many times, especially in MLS, big defenders run, using that word lightly, around like tanks on the field. Instead, Aubrey looks like a deer just gracefully gliding around the pitch. There are definitely going to be growing pains with him, as he continues to gel with the current squad, but definitely a solid pickup.
Ryan Hollingshead (B) - Overall, a decent match for Ryan. It did look like he struggled from time to time on the pitch. He caught got up field a couple of times and gave up the ball too easily as well. He did end up settling into the match and got stronger as the game wore on. It might have just been one of those night for Ryan and I’m sure he will bounce back without a problem (probably when he shifts back over to his natural position).
Atiba Harris (B) – Didn’t have a lot of work for most of the night and did a nice job getting forward. Atiba would be a completely different player if we had a big #9 in the box that could get on the end of his crosses. Instead, he kind of loses one of the best parts of his game and is forced to be more creative with his passing. In true Atiba fashion, he tripped up a Chicago player right outside the box conceding the free kick that eventually lead to the goal. Luckily it didn’t matter, but it was frustrating to see the clean sheet gone.
Jesse Gonzalez (B+) – Didn’t have a lot of work throughout the night but when Chicago did counter, Jesse was there to come up big and make the save. It was a bit frustrating when Chicago was able to erase the clean sheet. As a goalie, you set your wall in a way to cover that near post. Unfortunately for Jesse, Tesho let him down a bit by not jumping when the ball was kicked. Overall though, a nice showing by Jesse. We will probably be seeing him against Houston Wednesday night. Hopefully he will be able to avenge the beating that he received earlier in the year.
Oscar Pareja (A) - Another home game, another home victory. Once again, Oscar set up the squad and let them just go out and play. I’ve really enjoyed how Oscar allows the boys to get out there and show some flair in their game. Between Mauro, Fabian, Kellyn, and Barrios, they enjoy doing the incredible and leaving the crowd in ‘aww.’
Mauro Rosales (A) - Was brought on to see the game out and in the process was able to net his second goal of the season.
Victor Ulloa (NA) – Was brought in to see the game out. Victor was probably a little unlucky to not have scored late in the second half, but in the end he saw the match to the finish line and another 3 points.
Tesho Akindele (NA) - Would have liked Tesho to do a little more on that free kick goal, but FCD still got the important three points. Who am I kidding though, I wouldn’t have jumped up and let the ball hit me square in the nose.
FC Dallas has now run their home unbeaten streak to 16 games after Saturday night’s win. Coming off an embarrassing showing in Seattle, and the big games this week, FCD could have easily dropped points Saturday night. Instead, they came out, dominated the match and probably should have had a few more goals. In the end, job well done and let’s go out and get two more wins this week. As always, your comments are welcomed. Let me know what you think!!