FC Dallas pulled out a huge 3-1 victory at the home of rivals Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby on Saturday night, a win that keeps FCD firmly in control of its own destiny in regards to the Supporters’ Shield race. When Brazilian midfielder Alex gave Houston a deserved lead midway through the first half, it seemed like Dynamo was set to win its second derby of the season but a spirited fightback from Dallas, including a Michael Barrios brace following a Mauro Diaz penalty, ensured that that would not be the case and FCD produced a memorable result at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
The significance of the result was especially important in the league table with fellow SS contenders Toronto, LA, Colorado, and NYCFC all dropping points this round but even the two-goal victory wasn’t enough to keep El Capitan in FCD’s hands with Houston winning it on a tiebreaker, in large part thanks to the 5-0 win on the second matchday of the season.
The most impressive aspect of the performance was undoubtedly the team showcasing its abilities to deal with adversity once again. After a bad first half display which could have ended with a similar scoreline to the game in March, the players returned to the pitch in the second half like a different side and took control of the match, eventually managing to turn things around with three goals and a win in the process. It was a comeback that only true champions could produce after such a disappointing first 45 minutes and that’s exactly what FCD gave us on Saturday night.
Some of the individual performances in this match from a Dallas perspective were also top quality. Chris Seitz had a sensational game in goal and was the sole reason Dallas were still in the game at half-time after pulling off a number of saves that he had no right to make. Match-winner Michael Barrios produced two excellent finishes to take his 2016 tally to nine goals in all competitions while Maynor Figueroa continued his impressive recent form with a well-rounded performance and the formidable pairing of Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta posted up a staggering 21 defensive plays in the middle of the park to tilt the game in Dallas’ favor as it went on.
Continuing on that note, the two Mauros dictated the play together further forward, especially after the equalizer after which the game became wide open and that suited them to a tee to just pull the strings at will whenever the ball arrived at their feet. Tesho Akindele’s introduction also changed the dynamics of the game and it wasn’t long after he came on that Dallas scored the two quickfire goals to win before he laid on the third for Barrios late on.
The improvements made as the game progressed were the catalyst for the triumph. The defense went from being fortunate to not let in three or four in the first half to not conceding a single shot on goal in the second while the attack created little and didn’t score in the first half before creating more in the second 45 and being efficient with the chances they got to score the goals. There were several good individual performances, but all in all, it was also an impressive team display that earned FCD this win.
Most of the negatives in this game took place in the first half, which was one of the worst 45 minute displays that FCD has had in months. Houston were 4-0 up in under half an hour in the March meeting and if not for a combination of Seitz and poor finishing, they could have had a similar result by halftime here. Thankfully Dallas managed to turn things around in the second half, but the concerns from the first 45 are still there to be evaluated and ensure that it doesn’t get repeated too often in the future going into the final stage of the season.
Maximiliano Urruti’s performance was also a negative with the Argentine striker once again failing to get on the scoresheet. He’s only scored in one away fixture all year long which is hardly convincing enough for someone who’s supposed to be the #9 of one of the current best teams in the league. He may not get many scoring opportunities every game because of his sacrifice for the greater good of the team which deserves more appreciation among the fan base, but his poor form in front of goal on the road is still a concern and one that puts more pressure on others to deliver instead in order for the team to score goals. Thankfully, the others usually do step up and bring the goods when necessary, but it’s not something Dallas will be able to depend on all the time and it’ll be important for Urruti to show that he has what it takes to deliver in tough road matches as well, something he has yet to prove in his time at the club.
FC Dallas will now host reigning MLS Cup holders Portland Timbers this Saturday at Toyota Stadium, a game for which both sides will be well below strength due to the absences of several players because of the upcoming FIFA international break.