The annual July fourth match has become more of an event than an actual game. The stadium is always packed, the fireworks display is great, the fans are drenched with sweat and FC Dallas wins. This year stayed the course and everyone left happy and a little damp from a proper summer’s night in the metroplex. This match was all but over 20 minutes in with goals from Walker Zimmerman and Michael Barriors. If not for some courageous defending by Joe Bednick, the game could have ended with a baseball score. As FC Dallas sets their eyes on a busy upcoming schedule, let's take a look back and see how the team graded out.
Maxi Urruti (B+) - Probably was a little unlucky to not get a goal. Was very active all evening and had a nicely weighted through ball to Michael Barriors on the second goal. Maxi may never become the 15 goal a year striker we want at the head of our offense, but his movement, passing ability, and tracking back shouldn’t be overlooked. As a whole, I have been very happy with his addition to the team. Let’s hope he is able to add a few more goals to his already full bag of tricks.
Mauro Diaz (A+) - Two assists on the evening and left the night 2nd in MLS in total assists on the year. Not too bad for a guy who has already missed some time earlier in the year due to injury. With Orlando being disconnected in the midfield, Mauro had tons of space to distribute out of. If not for some timely saves or missed opportunities, he could have walked away with a game for the ages. In the end, he will have to settle with just two assists, giving him nine on the year and four in his last two games.
Fabian Castillo (A) – I think it is fair to say that Fabian is finally back. He is playing with a lot of confidence and just letting the match come to him. It doesn’t look like he is feeling the pressure of having to make things happen - going 1 v 4 and hoping to wiggle free. Instead he is staying in his channels and letting the playmakers in the middle feed him the ball. The great thing about it is that it’s working. He was able to bag another goal, thanks to Tesho being a kind gentleman, and continue his hot streak. Hopefully his confidence will continue to grow. With San Jose coming up this week, look for him to show up on the score sheet. Fabians tends to play really well against them.
Michael Barrios (A+) – This match set up perfectly for Michael. With the size of the Orlando FC’s backline, he was going to always have a his way with them. His goal was just a simple run out of the midfield that the centerbacks couldn’t keep up with and ended up losing sight of the ball. Anytime Barriors gets 1v1 with the goalie, he is going to score. He doesn’t miss a lot of those opportunities, and he made it count Monday night. Overall, I thought he had a really nice match. His movement was great and he just kept attacking all night.
Carlos Gruezo (A) – Carlos has become such a delight to watch in the midfield. His lateral movement and cutting off passing lanes is a thing of beauty. Even though a lot of the work he does goes unnoticed, he has become a really big cog in this midfield. He was all over the pitch Monday night, tracking backs, stepping up and stomping out counter attacks. It also wouldn’t be a ‘Carlos Gruezo’ performance without him getting a yellow card, which he did.
Kellyn Acosta (A) - It’s taken some time but Kellyn has gotten back to where he was at the end of last year. His partnership with Gruezo has had some growing pains, but now they are getting it figured out and it’s awesome to watch. With Carlos sitting back and protecting the backline, Kellyn has the ability to make runs going forward and become more active offensively. His one touch passing in tight places has become a key to unlock those tight defenses. Even though he didn’t get any assists, he was still able to release Fabian and Maxi on goal. I’ve been super impressed with his play over the last 90 days or so.
Matt Hedges (A+) - A shutout, a goal and a win. Matt probably couldn’t have asked for much more out of the match. Defensively, FCD was great Monday night. Orlando ended the match with just three shots. The partnership between Matt and Walker is becoming scary good and fun to watch. Great performance by the captain.
Walker Zimmerman (A+) - Was a reflex save away from having a brace on the night. As this season has progressed, I’ve become more and more thankful that Walker decided to resign with FCD. He has become a special player and is one of emotional leaders on the pitch. This centerback pairing is rolling right now, let's hope they can keep it going.
Maynor Figueroa (A) - Didn’t really have a lot to do most of the night, since Orlando tried going direct through the midfield. When he was called upon, he was able to make the proper play. A solid performance and a shutout.
Atiba Harris (A) – Might have had one or two late challenges, but overall a very nice evening for Atiba. In a lot of ways similar to Maynor, he wasn’t called upon a lot most of the night. Anytime you get a shutout and a win, you can’t really complain.
Chris Seitz (A+) – How do you grade someone who didn’t even have to face a shot on target? I think Chris might have had to catch two crosses all night as well? At the end of the evening, he was able to help keep Orlando FC scoreless, something that hadn’t been done all year.
Oscar Pareja (A+) - He had the guys up for the game Monday and just released them. This is one of the most convincing wins of the year and a nice one to build off of going forward. The schedule is starting to get very busy, so Oscar is going to have touch up on his juggling routine.
Carlos Lizarazo (NA) - Game was out of reach when Carlos came in. Anytime he comes into the match in these MLS games, I want him to become more familiar with the speed and physicality of the game. He is going to be needed going forward, and the more comfortable he feels, the better off the team will be.
Tesho Akindele (NA) - Game was out of reach when Tesho came in. That didn’t stop him from making runs and trying to score though. It shows a lot about a team and a player when they are subbed on late, have a chance at goal and are still willing to pass it off. Class guy.
Victor Ulloa (NA) – Came off the bench to see the game off. Even though much wasn’t needed from him, it’s always nice to have a lock down holding midfielder sub late into games.
We are now into the the grind it out part of the season. As with recent history, FC Dallas seems to, again, be gaining their stride during these summer months. Monday night, they were able to keep Orlando FC scoreless for the first time all year and send the sold out Toyota Stadium home happy. We now turn our eyes to San Jose, a place where Fabian and Tesho have both had memorial nights. Let’s hope this excellent form continues and we get another three points.
As always, let me know me what your thoughts are as well!!