What a week this has been. We have had rumors about Weston McKinnie leaving for Germany, a big USOC win against Houston (which is looking like Fabian Castillo’s last goal for the club), Fabian wanting to leave and a big away game against Colorado. I won’t spend that much time talking about Fabian in this article, but keep an eye out on the site, because we will be devoting a few pieces to our thoughts on the situation.
To the game itself. FCD was always going to be behind the 8 ball going into this match. Playing your full squad in a midweek game, traveling, playing at altitude and going up against a very good defensive team that doesn’t lose at home. I had predicted that we would lose the match Saturday night and I was okay with it. I don’t really see us winning the supporters shield this year, and am more fixated on getting some kind of hardware. After winning in Houston on Wednesday, I felt like the week was already a success. With that being said, the team played great. Other than a defensive breakdown and another ‘Aitba moment’ the guys came out and showed a lot of heart. You could argue that if any other goalie is in net besides Tim Howard, FC Dallas wins that game. He came up with some huge saves to limit Dallas to just the one goal. Enough of my game recap, let’s see how the team graded out.
Mauro Diaz (B+) - Solid performance. Without Urruti upfront, Mauro was having to work to find players in open channels. He was able to link up with Barrios a couple of times and almost snatched a victory all together, with an excellent through ball. The match had the feel of a playoff game. There wasn’t a lot of space in the midfield and Mauro was constantly getting fouled, clipped and kicked. To his credit he kept coming back for more and in a lot of ways, seemed to come alive in the last 15 minutes. Overall, it was a good performance.
Michael Barrios (B+) – Had a good game. If there is any other keeper in goal, Michael gets at least one goal Saturday night. I thought he played really well overall. Especially against a team that had only conceded four goals at home all year. Even against a stingy defense, he was able to wiggle free and find some quality chances. I am excited to see how Barrios is going to be able to make his next step as a footballer, now that he will be getting the ball a lot more.
Tesho Akindele (B) - Had his moments, but was absent for stretches of the match. Whether due to gameplan or what the defense was giving FCD, it seemed like Tesho was just stuck out wide. Very rarely did he cut inside and go at goal, when he did though, he had some quality chances. It seems like he has lost that confidence to go at defenders. Last year and in his rookie campaign, Tesho was constantly going at defenders and making their lives difficult. It seems like this year, he has become more comfortable cycling the ball back out to the backline or the towards the middle. I have always liked Tesho and am excited to see if he can finally break out with the amount of playing time that he is going to be getting now.
Ryan Hollingshead (B) - A decent night. Overall, Ryan didn’t offer a whole lot going forward. He was playing out of position somewhat and you could tell from time to time. His link up play as an attacking midfielder leaves you wanting more. I would argue that when he is put out wide, instead of the fullback position, his main responsibility is to track back and provide cover. So, in a sense, anything he can get you going forward is just a bonus.
Carlos Gruezo (A) – Another nice match for Carlos. Matches against Colorado are why the front office went out and got him. He was everywhere on the pitch once again. He was covering for the backline, closing down on the midfielders, distributing the ball forward, and tracking back out wide. Carlos refuses to give opposing teams an inch and in physical games where the ref lets them play, he is almost unstoppable. I say it every week, but I have been super impressed by Carlos.
Kellyn Acosta (B+) - Very active again. Carlos’ and Kellyn’s partnership was spot on again Saturday night. Other than one or two balls that were played in the middle, the two defensive midfielders did their jobs. They made life extremely difficult going forward and forced Colorado to try to go quick on offense before Kellyn, Carlos and the back line got situated. I am really enjoying Kellyn’s long shot attempts as well. He is going to end up getting one before the year is up.
Matt Hedges (A) - Another outstanding match by the captain. Other than a breakdown on a stretched defense once or twice, Matt and the rest of the backline did an outstanding job of limiting the amount chances Colorado had. If there is one thing that keeps me thinking we still have a shot this year, it’s this backline and most importantly, Matt and Walker. They don’t lose headers and very rarely do they get caught up field. They have the ability to make tackles in the box without fouling players and overall, they just don’t allow attacking players any space. Saturday night was a big time game and Matt was able to help shoulder it.
Walker Zimmerman (A) - Another solid performance. In a lot of ways, Walker is the perfect mixture of Matt Hedges and Zach Lloyd. He has Matt’s aerial ability and vision and Zach’ mobility and elusiveness to make those last minute tackles in the box. On Saturday night, Walker was huge once again. He helped limit Colorado to nine total shots with only two being on target. The few times that the defense did breakdown, he was there to help put out the fire. Walker should definitely be an All Star this year, but I am glad that he won’t have to travel and or play midweek.
Maynor Figueroa (B+) - Played a solid match Saturday night. It feels like Maynor is starting to settle in on the backline. Minus the red card in Seattle, he has played really well lately. He hasn’t been making those crazy challenges or been getting beat inside. Instead, he has been playing within himself and the rest of the backline. Saturday night was another good performance from a guy that has been quietly putting in good shifts for about a month or two now. FCD will need him to keep up this form and he isn’t showing any signs of falling off.
Atiba Harris (B-) – Another mistake that lead to a goal. Against Chicago, Atiba fouled a player right outside the box, leading to a freekick goal. Against Houston, Atiba fouled Giles Barnes in stoppage time, allowing a free kick that almost tied the game. Against Colorado, Atiba tried to clear the ball to the inside, which ended up leading to the Rapids only goal. These mistakes have become a bit of a habit. In all of those game, aside of the one mistake, he has played great. It just seems that he switches off sometime and it leads to opportunities. If somehow, Atiba can eliminate the one late tackle or risky play from his game, this defense would be just about unstoppable. Aside from the mistake, I thought Atiba did have an overall nice match.
Chris Seitz (B+) – Wasn’t called on a lot to make saves, but the limited times he was, he was able to come up with them. It’s impossible to ask Chris to do more on the only goal he conceded, but it would have been awesome if he was able to be superman once more in that instance. Seitz has been great this year and will need to continue to be if this team has any hopes of getting any hardware.
Oscar Pareja (A) - With the craziness of the week, I thought Oscar did an outstanding job with the guys. He had them focused and ready to go Saturday night. His substitution was what also lead to the goal. Oscar will need to keep coaching his pants off with the amount of games left on the schedule.
Agustin Jara (NA) - A defensive sub, brought in to help see the game out. Overall he didn’t see a lot of the ball, but did do a nice job just slowing down the play on the wings. I did feel kind of bad that Oscar played him against Colorado, because of the nasty tackle he had in the USOC match.
Victor Ulloa (A+) – What a strike!! Third week in a row that an FCD player will be a candidate for goal of the week. I kid you not, when Victor was lining up the shot, I was audibly saying, "No, no, no." When that rocket went in, I was stunned, as I assume everyone else was too. It was a great moment for a great guy. We will need Victor over the next three months, so it’s nice to see him contribute in a massive way.
Coy Craft (NA) - Showed glimpses of what he will be able to offer one day. He has nice pace, a good touch and actually sees the field pretty well for his age. He was able to send a few crosses into the box in his limited time but wasn’t able to provide much more than that.
Thankfully, last week is now over. We all need a full week to recover and get our minds right for the crazy schedule to come. It might not seem like a blessing, but Mauro and Kellyn (who got added while I’m writing this piece) will be the only 2 guys playing Thursday during the All-Star game. Hopefully the rest of the guys will be able to get some time off and relax. For as crazy this past month has been for us fans, I can only imagine, what it’s like for the players. We have another big game Sunday evening against Vancouver and Blas Perez. It should be a fun one. As always, let me know your thoughts and how you think the guys played Saturday night.