FC Dallas took their first step towards advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League last night by putting up two goals at home against Pachuca, after falling behind in the third minute due to some lapse defending and a clinical finish from Braian Rodriguez. The return leg of the series will take place in Pachuca on April 4.
The Year of the Kellyn Acosta (continues)
We’ve been seeing and tossing this around social media the idea that this is the “Year of the Kellyn”. Without Mauro Diaz for at least half of the season, we’re now seeing Acosta grabbing the offense role in the midfield and putting the team on his back. Though only 21, Acosta’s already in his 6th season as a professional and nearing 6,000 minutes of MLS play. Acosta already leads the team with four goals in five games (all competitions) - a brace against Arabe Unido in the CCL quarter-finals and match winners against the LA Galaxy and Pachuca.
Without Diaz, Acosta’s responsibilities on the field have evolved. No longer a #6 (defensive midfielder), Acosta is now tasked to do both as a #8 (box-to-box midfielder). His midfielder partner, Carlos Gruezo will sit back and shield the defense while Acosta has the freedom to push forward and facilitate the attack in the emptied space where Diaz used to occupy.
It was not all great from Acosta last night though, as none of his corners found the intended target and he over hit most of them.
But it was something else to watch Acosta step up and take that game winning free kick, despite having a rough night on set pieces. Go on, Kellyn. Go on.
Can the Defense Hold?
Despite having a 2-1 lead, that conceded away goal is worrisome and Pachuca has to fancy their chances of overcoming the deficit. Dallas was the first MLS side to beat a Mexican team in Mexico, so it does have some hope but can the team withstand a desperate Pachuca side that needs only a single goal to advance to the finals?
Without playing with that much urgency or intensity for the entirety of the match, Pachuca still managed to get off 11 shots with 10 of them inside the penalty area. Of course, the heroics of Chris Seitz has been overshadowed by Acosta’s free kick, but it is troublesome to see how easily Pachuca’s offense managed to generate chances on the road.
Not sure what to make of it exactly, but Acosta’s misfiring on crosses wasn’t an isolated incident. Only Hernan Grana and Pachuca’s Urreta managed to connected on any crosses on the night and the grand total between the two of them was just three successful crosses.