FC Dallas traveled to Utah for the second time in just over a month this weekend but, unlike last time, they managed to leave the state with a point in their pocket after a goalless draw at Real Salt Lake. Once again, it was a tightly contested intense encounter between the two sides with plenty to play for on the line, but neither managed to find a way through the other with few chances created on the night.
This result leaves FCD in a good position to win the Supporters’ Shield and dents RSL’s chances, but with only three games to go, it’ll be important for the Hoops to pick up at least a couple of wins if they are to achieve that goal for the first time ever.
The most important positive to take out of the game was the team’s strong defensive display and the clean sheet that they rewarded with from it. Having failed to have kept a single shutout in the last ten outings across all competitions and conceded thirteen in the process, the concerns regarding the defense returned lately but this game took away some of those worries as the team remained solid and sturdy at the back all night long, albeit against a weakened RSL attack. It’s a step in the right direction ahead of the playoffs.
We also saw some good individual displays again, mainly from players at the back for once. Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman formed a rock solid central defensive partnership and put in some great challenges while dominating the game aerially while Chris Seitz and Carlos Gruezo both had good nights of their own. In the playoffs where the games are tight and the smallest details could decide them, it’ll be important for Dallas to have players such as the ones above at their best form and their displays here will be necessary from here on out in order for the club to meet its ultimate end of season targets.
One of the negatives to take out of this was Mauro Diaz’s performance and lack of influence on the game, which largely had to do with RSL’s pairing of Kyle Beckerman and Luke Mulholland doing a great job defending against him. With Diaz having only gotten 81 touches of the ball in the last two visits to RSL, an amount he usually amounts in one game regularly, it’s worrying to imagine that perhaps RSL have found the blueprint on how to effectively defend against Diaz and if other teams follow suit in doing so this way, Dallas could be in trouble offensively.
The above point has a lot to do with this next one but offensively the team didn’t have a good outing last night. Aside from Diaz, we also saw quiet games from Maximiliano Urruti, Michael Barrios, and Mauro Rosales who failed to really affect the game and didn’t get enough service to do so as well, especially as the game wore on and Diaz’s influence decreased more and more. If this is how Dallas look going forward with Diaz unable to stamp his mark on the game, then we better hope that there’s not too many of these kind of matches left in the remainder of the year.
Dallas will now turn to CONCACAF Champions League action in midweek with a home game against Guatemalan side Suchitepequez on Wednesday before hosting LA Galaxy next Saturday night in a crunch encounter for a top two spot in the Western Conference and a major advantage in the Supporters’ Shield race.