FC Dallas flew up to Utah to face a struggling Mike Petke and Real Salt Lake. This was also a special reunion for former RSL player, and current FC Dallas midfielder, Javier Morales. He spent the last decade at Rio Tinto, and was (and still is) a fan favorite with the RSL community, and was honored before the match. Although Javi Mo did not play, there is plenty to talk about in this exciting 3-0 win.
The return to 4-4-2
The last several weeks Oscar Pareja has opted for a 4-2-3-1 with Tesho Akindele, Javier Morales, and Roland Lamah as the three attacking midfielders. The main criticism I have seen is that the system with this personnel lacks fluidity. Nothing against Javier Morales, he’s a great player and had an incredible career, but an effective fluid attack requires speed in the FC Dallas setup. Morales doesn’t necessarily have the speed he had ten years ago, but Pareja saw the need for a change heading to Rio Tinto Stadium. On Saturday, we saw Victor Ullola get his first start of the season anchoring the midfield, Kellyn Acosta playing a box-to-box role, and with Roland Lamah and Michael Barrios alternating flanks as the two wide midfielders.
This formation did see Dallas have more control of the game in the opening 25 minutes. This is something that Dallas had struggled with this season, including the stat that prior to the match, FC Dallas was the only team not to score in the opening 30 minutes of the match. The 4-4-2 formation caters to players like Kellyn Acosta, who has been thriving this season when he is in positions where he is more of a playmaker. Whether we see the continuation of the 4-4-2 or Pareja using his tactical flexibility will be seen, but as of now, the 4-4-2 provides results, and I hope that it does not change as long as Dallas continues to record wins.
Urruti records a brace
Maxi Urruti has been red hot for FC Dallas, and his fine form continued in Salt Lake City. He started off in the 3rd minute by netting the club’s first PK attempt of the season. His relentless work rate proved dividends once again both offensively and defensively as he seemed to be wherever the ball was. Urruti ended up sealing the deal in the 91st minute scoring off a one on one battle.
It’s fun to note that the Argentine is on pace to have a 20 goal season. When was the last time Dallas had a 20 goal per season player? Will this happen? As much as I hope, with Urruti’s track record of being a streaky player, it is not too likely that Urruti will hit that 20-goal mark. I do think it is dependent on how he will be able to adapt to a possession based system that does not necessarily play to his strengths. This counter attacking playing style suits him perfectly, and it has been shown, and it has kept new DP signing Cristian Colman on the bench.
Three road points. Still undefeated. Busca La Forma
This game may have been scrappy at times, Luke Mulholland nearly lost his head a couple times, but there is plenty to be proud of with FC Dallas. I think it has been clear they have not been playing to their full potential, there is plenty of gelling with some of the new players, some have yet to reach full form yet, and yet they have been the only team in MLS yet to lose a game. Last season, the term “Busca La Forma” was introduced, and I believe that Oscar Pareja has engrained this in the players heads day in day out. There are some games Dallas had no right getting a result, but yet, they still continue to produce results. Dallas is one of two teams to average more than 2 points per game, only red hot Orlando City has produced more. Once Mauro Diaz returns from injury, MLS better watch out, because Dallas will be a force to be reckoned with.