Despite dropping the second leg to Arabe Unido 2-1, FC Dallas still secured their spot into the CONCACAF Champions League semi-finals by having a 5-2 goal aggregate advantage. Wednesday night's performance also gave us a couple of glimpses into both the now and the future as to how FC Dallas will cope with the next few months without their key offensive player, Mauro Diaz.
It's not secret that I'm a huge fan of Javier Morales. The former Real Salt Lake maestro charmed the league for the past decade as a true creative force that pushed RSL to an MLS Cup, an MLS Cup Finals appearance and an appearance in the CCL Finals, racking up 49 goals and 81 assists in 240 appearances. Like Mauro Rosales, JaviMo was brought it to bring experience and veteran savvy to a very young side that's primed to challenge for silverware. In other words, the window to win is now and Dallas needs some key leadership players to guide the squad through the CCL and MLS Cup playoffs. JaviMo is precisely that player and we finally got a chance to see what he brings to the table for club.
This was the perfect game for Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja to start a player of Morales' stature: up 4-0, on the road, with the MLS regular season opener just three days away. There was no pressure for Morales to generate any offense for the team thanks to the four goal cushion, but if the chance presented itself, Morales was free to take it. The charge was to simply keep the ball moving and get out of there injury free and onto the next round. Consider it a job well done as Morales found the ball plenty and was able to shepherd the ball out to the wings and away from the defense whenever possible.
Of course, Morales doesn't have the legs to create and generate as much offense as Diaz does, but in a pinch, a guy like Morales will do just fine.
As the game neared the ended moments, Pareja pointed down the bench and called for the club's new #19 - Paxton Pomykal - and handed the Homegrown his first senior minutes. In a very symbolic gesture, Pomykal came on to replace Kellyn Acosta, who is widely considered the best homegrown player the entire league has ever produced.
Pomykal was tasked to play deep in the midfield and continue to try to shuffle the ball out of troubling spots and just see the team through to the next round. Pomykal showed off his range of passing skills and also his versatility as he's more commonly played in more advanced positions to facilitate the offense. Is he the heir apparent to Diaz? Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing is for sure, he's a strong talent and certainly has a place in this midfield for years to come.