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Scratching the Chalkboard: Rest Maxi Urruti and Jesse Gonzalez to the rescue

It’s time to give Maxi a break

MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas disappointingly picked up a solitary point last night against the Colorado Rapids. Yes, a road point against a Western Conference opponent is nothing to sneeze at (yes, even against the Crapids) but with now two games left to go, Dallas absolutely wanted the full three points.

The troubling thing now is, this team looks completely uninspired and done for the year. I know Oscar Pareja has stated that this team will “fight”, but their fight looks more like a mild, semi-reluctant resistance at this point.

Maxi is spent

Make no mistake, Maximiliano Urruti is the perfect player for this team. He’s relentless on defense, and can create chances out of nothing. His team leading 12 goals in league play needs no explanation, however, all that running and expounded energy has seem to finally take its toll on Urruti’s legs.

Here are Urruti’s minutes played by the season:

Urruti Minutes by Year

2017 30 30 2640
2016 30 29 2482
2015 30 12 1082
2014 30 12 1181
2013 7 4 351

Not all minutes are the same. With the way Urruti plays and applies defensive pressure, it wouldn’t surprise me if the amount of coverage he does mimics a midfielder. Urruti only has 1 goal in the last 14 games, and is goal-less in 8 straight.

Urruti’s shot chart vs COL

I covered this last week, that Maxi’s shot attempts have been lower recently. Though he did get to four yesterday, the quality of them left much to be desired. Two of them were wild, overly ambitious attempts (which, really if there was a player on this team that’s going to attempt a 20 yard half volley over his shoulder, Maxi would be it). The team is unable to get the ball to him in good spots. Though Urruti is also to blame since he drops so deep and drifts wide to help keep the ball moving.

Urruti really needs to sit the next one versus Seattle. He’s only missed two games this year (league play), and has gone the distance in 22 of the 30 games he’s played. His shortest outing was 79 minutes (which happened twice; vs LA 3/4/17 and vs VAN 7/29/2017).

I know Dallas needs help and needs to get a point, or three, against Seattle next week. But given Urruti’s heavy workload, Oscar Pareja should really consider pairing Cristian Colman with Tesho Akindele up top and playing counter-attacking soccer, and give Maxi a much deserved break. Realistically, Dallas will leave Seattle with zero points (Dallas has only one win and one draw in their regular season history at Seattle) and will absolutely need him at his best against LA for the regular season finale.

Rest Maxi. Give Colman and Tesho a chance in a 4-4-2.

Hedges quietly rounding back into form

Captain Matt Hedges has been a shadow of his 2016 MLS Defender self after his Gold Cup call up. However, in the last three matches since his yellow card suspension, Hedges has slowly been anchoring this defense better.

Three straight games unbeaten and just 1 goal allowed in the process.

Hedges’ defensive actions vs COL. Yellow - block. Purple - clearance. Green - tackle. Red - failed tackle.

Hedges did well against the Rapids, which we do need take with a grain of salt, but it’s something to build on. He’s still not near his 2016 form, but for a team desperate for points and anything positive, getting Hedges back to his best is a comforting sign.

Jesse ‘Clark Kent’ Gonzalez

I won’t give all the credit to the defense for their recent string of decent showings. A huge reason for it has been Gonzalez’ super human like displays of shot stopping. After losing his starting position in 2016, Gonzalez seems to have finally recaptured his form from his breakout year in 2015.

I mean, look at this:

Gonzalez is shifting to his left and has to suddenly leap to his right and go full superman to get his hands on Alan Gordon’s header. This is the kind of goalkeeping a team will need if it wants to make a run in the playoffs.

Whether Dallas gets to see postseason play or not, it can have Jesse to thank for keeping them in the discussion.