What a game. FC Dallas’ offense needed to pick up its pace, and it definitely did so on Saturday. These grades may seem high, but they really should be after a performance like this. Every member of FC Dallas’ starting attack got on the score sheet with either assists or goals, including the two holding midfielders, Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa. The defense had little to work with. Both Maynor Figueroa and Atiba Harris played out of position at center back to bring their experience to the center of the back line, and homegrown depth man Aaron Guillen got the start at left back, which appears to have become his main position with FC Dallas, even though many people argue whether his most comfortable spot would be at center back. All three of these players came through, delivering a mostly sound game defensively. To cap off the night, sixteen-year-old homegrown Jesus Ferreira came onto the field to make his debut and ended the night with his first professional goal to his name.
Here is how the players graded out:
Jesse Gonzalez: B+
Jesse Gonzalez did seem to get caught off guard on the first RSL goal. It was a hard save to make, but you see those shots go in sometimes and get saved other times. After that goal, Jesse made a phenomenal save to his right hand side. Unfortunately, it lead to the corner kick for RSL that would give them their second goal. That second goal was unstoppable, and the only blame you could try to put on Jesse on that one is for the organization of the defenders. Other than those chances, Gonzalez never made any kinds of small mistakes or blips, and after the match, there was big news that Jesse Gonzalez was called up to the USMNT Gold Cup preliminary roster.
Aaron Guillen: A
The most solid member of FC Dallas' back four in this game was second-year defender Aaron Guillen. Guillen played conservatively. He didn't push up the field often or make high risk passes. He was alert defensively, however, and did well in keeping FC Dallas' makeshift back line intact.
Maynor Figueroa: A
Many people were wondering what the center back pairing would be. Figueroa came in and did a fantastic job. He stepped up as a leader at the back, and continued to offer his trademark left-footed long balls that switch the field and bring the ball into the attack. Real Salt Lake's offense put pressure on Dallas in the first fifteen minutes, but FCD's back four held steady with Figueroa at the lead.
Atiba Harris: A
In comparison to Figueroa, Atiba Harris wasn't as authoritative early on, and made a mistake here or there, but overall, he kept a clean game. Like Figueroa, Atiba brought great passes out of the back to kick start the offense, and he even got a nice assist. Playing out of position at center back, this team should be grateful for Harris and Figueroa and their flexibility across the back line.
Hernan Grana: B+
As usual, Grana brought some life to the right side of the field. On the negative side, he had a few giveaways in the defensive half and also was partly to blame for the first RSL goal. He was trying to protect a large amount of space on the right side of the box, but there weren't any opposing players there, so he should have stepped to Omar Holness and made sure he couldn’t turn around and get a shot off. You could tell though that he was looking for other players to drop back into defensive positions to support him so as to not leave the large gap he would have left by stepping to Holness. Grana's grade gets a bump up for his work rate he displayed. Not many players can lend themselves up into the attack and make sure they are back in defensive position like Grana.
Roland Lamah: A+++
One + for each of his goals. What an amazing performance by this guy. It appears he is past his MLS adjustment period. His three goals will highlight his night, but he was also clean in possession, and had some really great passes. It's pretty telling that he only missed one pass all game.
Victor Ulloa: A+
Without Matt Hedges, Victor Ulloa carried the captain's armband. FC Dallas' beloved homegrown midfielder didn't disappoint in his performance with the extra responsibility. Ulloa was excellent all around. He almost scored a cracker of a goal from distance, but was unlucky to see his shot smack off the crossbar. His through pass that assisted Urruti's goal was just ridiculous.
Carlos Gruezo: A+
Like his midfield partner, Carlos Gruezo had a fantastic performance. He would end the night with two assists, which accurately depicts what I liked most from him in this game. Gruezo was excellent defensively as he is most games, but what was most impressive from him was his ability to understand the situation and tear apart Real Salt Lake's defense with his passes.
Michael Barrios: A+
While Lamah had three goals on Saturday, Barrios got himself three assists. It's interesting to note that Barrios now has one goal and six assists this season. Even if he isn't scoring, he is bringing a lot of offensive threat and is being successful as a provider this year. I also really liked a shot he had early on that forced a a fingertip save by Van Oekel.
Tesho Akindele: A
Tesho wasn't perfect, but he got himself a nice goal. He proved his goal-scoring instincts yet again and was decent on the field otherwise, having a few nice plays going forward.
Maxi Urruti: A+
To be honest, I was worried Urruti's goal-scoring would stop for a long run like it did last year. I'm glad he was able to get a goal in this one. He also set up Lamah's second goal.
Oscar Pareja: A+
FC Dallas' offense was running dry. A few tactical changes saw them score six goals. FC Dallas was missing many defenders. The defense set up by Pareja survived. Pareja also found a way to get Jesus Ferreira, Mauro Diaz, and Cristian Colmán time off the bench.
Mauro Diaz: A
Diaz got some more minutes off the bench in his second appearance this year. He was able to get on the score sheet, delivering a second assist in the buildup to Jesus Ferreira's goal. Mauro connected passes all around the field, and on that goal showed his rare ability to successfully playmake from deep in the midfield.
Jesus Ferreira: A+
Scored on his debut. Pretty good, I would say. He also had a few tackles defensively and had some nice movement off the ball.
Cristian Colman: N/A
Colman came on late and didn’t have enough time to impact the match.
Lone Construction Worker: A++
One + for each ball he had to go get. It was a tough night, but Mr. Construction Worker came through for his team. Two times, the ball came over to his section, but sailed past the stands and he had to go retrieve them. He must be feeling cheated when things like this happen on the field:
Despite that, he still got his work done and gave FC Dallas his good luck charm.
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