Going into July it was pretty clear, FC Dallas needed as many points at home as they possibly could get out of a busy two game stretch. The result was almost near perfection as they downed Toronto 3-1 and then picked up a 4-2 win last night over D.C. United.
It seems crazy to think that going into Tuesday’s game, FC Dallas was in the exact same spot that they were in a season ago in the standings. Floating near the top with plenty of games left en route to a Supporters’ Shield trophy. But here we are again, 31 points after 18 games with lots of games to go and more importantly at the moment, a game-in-hand against those below us.
There was so much to unpack from this past week too. The amount of goals scored. The return of Walker Zimmerman. The emergence of depth in the central midfield.
The goals and the maestro
We know that Mauro Diaz makes this not just a good team but a great one. These last two games (three if you want to include the USOC win over Colorado last week) are proof as to how important he is for the club’s attack.
Take Roland Lamah for instance. Yes, he got a hat trick without Diaz in the lineup and was slowly starting to score goals. But ever since the level of passing picked up through the midfield thanks to Diaz just being out there, his rate of scoring has drastically increased. Sometimes Diaz doesn’t even need to touch the ball or set up a goal to have the effect on his teammates because he brings up their level of play when he is out there.
I’d also point out that the scoring has improved because this team is starting to gel more. Oscar Pareja pointed that out after last night and it is true when you break up this season into sections the way he described it.
The fact that our forwards have been more polished in their finishing… The decision making is better. The boy are getting their confidence back as well because they always create a lot of chances. In the first semester, in CONCACAF Champions League, there were many occasions where we come out with one goal and we say ‘we should have scored more today.’ That level of confidence has been increased.
- Oscar Pareja following the win over DCU.
Then there is Maxi Urruti. His 11 goals through the beginning of July is quickly putting him on pace with some of the club’s all-time scorers in a single season (18 by Kenny Cooper and Jason Kreis for those curious). The confidence he has right now is sky high and has done well for me to forget that the team paid $2 million for Cristian Colman in the offseason.
On the other side, you have Michael Barrios who has also stepped up his level of play. His ten assists currently lead MLS in that category. He too is on pace for a club record in assists for a single season (15 done by Kreis).
That depth is shining through
While I know in the back of my mind I need to pump the brakes just a bit given that this was two straight home wins, it is the depth that is starting to really make this fun. Early on this season Atiba Harris was our steady closer in the defense. Now he is filling in quite nicely in the central defense. Then it was Ryan Hollingshead coming off the bench following his pre-season injury. Now he too is finding his way into the lineup on a consistent basis.
But the depth truly does stretch further as this team progresses. Carlos Cermeno may not get a lot of minutes but the ones he does pick up are turning into extremely valuable ones. I know there are some folks that want to see him pick up a start (and I’m sure he will soon enough), but his ability to come off the bench and help lock down the midfield in late game situations is exactly what the team needs from him.
I think it is still impressive to see this team humming along nicely without the likes of Kellyn Acosta, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman for as long as they have here. Sure, up until this past week the wins weren’t piling up, but on the flip side, the losses weren’t either.
I’ll continue to say it, this is a marathon and not a sprint. The level of consistency out of this bunch lately has me once again feeling good about adding some hardware to the trophy case later this year.