Javier Morales and Michael Barrios picked up the goals in the win but the story of the night was certainly in goal for FCD.
Here are a few notes that I took down from the match:
Competition in goal
We have talked a lot about the keeper situation with this roster already this season. From the rumors of Fernando Clavijo going after a third keeper, to just the general competition between Chris Seitz and Jesse Gonzalez.
Last week’s two games showed that the competition was alive and well. Seitz didn’t have the greatest game in Mexico, which did result Oscar Pareja in making a change for Saturday to give Gonzalez the try. We were told after the game that the change had been decided a couple days before the Minnesota game.
How long will this juggling act last? I think following Saturday’s game, it may be safe to say that Gonzalez has earned back the starting role for now. In a small way, this reminds me a bit of how Seitz got the job last season from Gonzalez after a couple poor showings early in the season.
Can Gonzalez hold on to the gig for the rest of the season? After four league games, FC Dallas has two shutouts with Gonzalez in goal, so right now he certainly has the hot hands.
Roster rotation was key
We knew that Pareja was going to have to make one change in the lineup with Maynor Figueroa suspended. In came Atiba Harris but also came in was Morales for Cristian Colman.
As much as I want to read into the fact that Colman has struggled this season, I really cannot. After all, he’s only been with the team for two months. Any time you go back and look at a young, new player with this club, it always takes at least that long to get acclimated to this league. Colman has done a decent job so far with that given all the additional travel and games on the plate so far. So a rest was earned in my book.
Now, aside from that, the switch back to a 4-2-3-1 was a smart move as well in this game. Minnesota had guys like Sam Cronin, who can clog up the middle and possess the ball well enough to feed their attackers. This switch allowed Carlos Gruezo to do more of the dirty work that he naturally does on the field.
Also the rotation off the bench was good on Saturday night as well. Victor Ulloa got his first minutes in place of Kellyn Acosta, who didn’t have that big of a night (party due to how he hasn’t played enough with Morales). I’m also becoming more of a fan of Carlos Cermeno here too.
Team lost their shape late
Following the game, I discussed the match with Matt Hedges for a few minutes with most of the media was talking to Gonzalez. I’m always curious what Hedges thinks of a match and he was even more open than normal about Saturday’s win.
“We started really slow, kind of a hangover from the last game,” said Hedges. “Late in the game we lost our focus. Our shape wasn’t right, I wasn’t sure what we were trying to accomplish with the shape that we had. I could tell we just weren’t focused and we’ll have to correct that before the next game.”
Saying all of that, the team still managed a shutout win at home. I’ve long said that good teams know how to grind out results, even when things aren’t going right for them. FC Dallas did that on Saturday night.
Stock up - Michael Barrios. I’ve been a little critical of Barrios’ play this season but Saturday night was definitely one of his better games. While the stats agree (a goal and an assist), it was his movement on and off the ball. Pareja agreed and said he hoped to see more of that out of him.
Stock down - Roland Lamah. I know a lot of you have been critical of his play as of late. I throw him into the same category as Colman. Give him time. He does some really good things off the ball and then he also does some really head turning things on the ball. Acclimation takes time. He’ll get there.
Chala on the bench. While seeing Ulloa get minutes was a huge thing, seeing Anibal Chala make the bench for the first time since his sports hernia surgery was huge. I know I am curious to see what he really has to offer for this club and maybe how he can help improve the wing play. He is a Designated Player after all.