FC Dallas put a little separation for themselves between their first place standing and Sporting Kansas City’s second place. FCD now has a four point cushion between them with three games to play. The magic number for Dallas to enjoy a first round playoff bye is at 6, which Dallas should be able to do fairly comfortably.
But the 2-0 win over Orlando City was anything but a certainty. Both sides started trading blows back and forth in the first half, and Jesse Gonzalez was called to don his Superman cape to bail the team out on a few occasions. After some adjustments and the insertion of Santiago Mosquera into the left wing, Dallas started pulling apart Orlando’s defense like they should’ve and not even the rain could keep FCD from enjoying all the points.
Left side help
Oscar Pareja took a gamble by changing the entire left side of the field with Ryan Hollingshead getting a rare start at leftback and Pablo Aranguiz getting a look at left midfield. According to Carter Baum with FC Dallas, part of the reason was just to rotate minutes but because Aranguiz was expected to drift centrally, this would create a chance for Hollingshead to overlap in support.
In theory, that would’ve played out nicely. However, in execution that didn’t quite pan out like Oscar would’ve hoped.
Aranguiz isn’t a winger and doesn’t excel in those spaces, so it’s hard to fault him for that. Whenever he was on the ball though, you could see he was really thinking on a different level than everyone else on the field - finding angles and spaces to slide the ball past the defense.
Oddly enough, Hollingshead didn’t overlap as much as we anticipated either.
Hollingshead did foray forward and had a lovely exchange near the top of the box to set up Michael Barrios with a clear look on goal. However, Hollingshead didn’t go to the touchline to get behind Orlando’s defense. Credit to Orlando for keeping both Aranguiz and Hollingshead in front of them for most of the evening and for both FCD players for not forcing anything that wasn’t there.
It wasn’t electric as we would’ve hoped, but it was tidy and it was fine. If nothing else, it got Hollingshead some minutes to prepare himself for next week as he’s most likely to get the start on the right side in place of Reggie Cannon when Cannon goes to his first USMNT call up.
Maxi the Faux 10?
Steve Davis pointed this out on Twitter last night:
BTW, @FCDallas manager Oscar Pareja calls Maxi a "9 1/2" in the positioning order. Thought you guys should know that.— Steve Davis (@SteveDavis90) October 7, 2018
The experiment with Maxi Urruti as a #10 is no longer an experiment. It’s his position and credit to him for reinventing himself to continue to hold his place on this team. After a long goal scoring dry spell of 13 games this season, Urruti has been deployed as a hybrid type attacker. He’s not really a central attacking midfielder like Mauro Diaz was. He’s not an out and out striker like Dominique Badji either. He’s kind of a hybrid and Pareja’s label of a “9.5” is just perfection.
It’s a very interesting way to channel Urruti’s relentless Energizer Bunny attitude. His energy and motor allows him to drift across the field in search for the ball without tiring himself. Urruti helps overload sides with extra players and causes defenses to shift and pull out of shape.
Urruti’s now on a tear of 1 goal and 7 assists in his last 6 games. Urruti still has that striker instinct to shoot when he sees an opening, as evidence by his three long range efforts.
The running joke among the league is that Maxi hasn’t met a shot that he hasn’t liked, and it’s hard to fault him for that. When you’re the most advanced player and nobody is in front of you, why not take that shot from time to time? But now that he’s playing deeper and has a striker in front of him, he as teammates in more advanced and in better scoring position that he knows he must unselfishly slide the ball to rather than attempt a golazo.
I know many want to see Pablo Aranguiz get a look at the CAM spot, but with the way Urruti has been delivering in that position, it’s hard to see how Pareja can afford to change things right now.