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Scratching the Chalkboard: Javier Morales provides much needed relief

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The JaviMo I thought Dallas was getting finally showed up

MLS: Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

68 days. The horrific number between the last time FC Dallas and their fans enjoyed the sweet, sweet taste of three points. Yes, it was against the Colorado Rapids. Yes, it was at home. But in the context of falling from first place, to possibly not making the playoffs, a win is a win is a win.

Morales-Diaz Combo

This starting combination took many of us by surprise. Sure, Javier Morales did a fine job against the New York Red Bulls in the midfield with Mauro Diaz, but that was a substitute and Morales isn’t known for his defensive range. He still isn’t, but it worked beautifully in a pinch.

Morales’ passing chart vs COL

For whatever reason (really poorly coached and just a bad team overall), the Rapids opted to drop off and give Dallas unheard of amounts of possession (nearly 75% in the first half, and 67% for the whole match). Possession =\= ( or != for your Python programmers out there) automatic success, but if you watched the games during the 10 match win-less streak, you’ll notice that most teams did not allow the deep lying midfielder to get on the ball and turn to face up field. That forced Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo to play the ball back to the defenders and start over.

The Rapids chose the opposite and essentially didn’t bother tracking Morales whenever he dropped in search of the ball. Once Morales got on the ball, he was afforded even more time to turn and look up field for Diaz or Michael Barrios or Maximiliano Urruti.

Diaz’s passing chart vs COL

Speaking of Diaz... if you’re opting to give Morales time and space on the ball, then you pretty damn sure better not do the same for Diaz. As I said, the Rapids are awful, so they did the exact opposite and allowed two Argentian #10s pull the strings and dictate the tempo for the duration of the match.

Defense Mistake Free (Finally)

It’s been so long, but I honestly cannot remember a 90 minute stretch where this team and defensive unit didn’t make an egregious defensive error. Yes, Matt Hedges got caught with the ball in his feet once and there were some misplaced passes, but nothing disastrous or a missed assignment. Finally, this unit has strung together a performance that they can build on.

Rapids’ shooting chart

It is Colorado - a team that’s scored 27 goals in 30 games. So we’ll need to take that into context and consideration, but this is what you’d expect from a playoff caliber team: take care of business and not give the opposition (no matter how terrible) any opportunities.

Jesse Gonzalez really did not have much to do. The Rapids managed only one shot attempt in the opening half and the rest were relatively tame efforts that did not challenge Gonzalez in any way.

“The goalkeeper is the jewel in the crown and getting at him should be almost impossible. It's the biggest sin in football to make him do any work”. - George Graham

Who Taught Grana How to Cross???

It’s no secret that my biggest complaint about Hernan Grana was his inability to play the proper final ball. He does so well getting forward and keeping possession going, but so often he aimlessly just lofts the ball towards the back post without any target in mind.

This is where his two assists were a joy to behold.

His first pass absolutely should have been dealt with, but that’s what happens when you drive the ball low: you force the defender to make a decision... or non-decision in this case.

Grana’s passing chart

Grana’s patience and decision making was much improved. Here’s to hoping he’ll continue that for the rest of the season. Because as much as I’ve drummed for Reggie Cannon to get a look, it’s pretty clear that Grana has the trust of Oscar Pareja at this point.