FC Dallas unbeaten run continued after taking care of business against the visiting Philadelphia Union. Dallas (at the time of this writing) remain one of two teams left unbeaten in MLS (NYCFC the other, who kick off later today at 5pm CT against Portland).
After a successful run with the 4-4-2 formation at New England last week, Oscar Pareja opted to continue with the “If it ain’t broke” model. There were some changes with the personnel as we saw for the first time, both Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Diaz both start the game on the bench. This allowed Cristian Colmán and newcomer Santiago Mosquera to get a run of minutes against a struggling Union side.
Here are some observations for the 4-4-2:
Santi can play
It’s taken a little while, but after his MLS debut in the season opener against Real Salt Lake on March 3rd, Santiago Mosquera finally got his second league start for FC Dallas. Mosquera has played in every game in brief cameos, but it wasn’t until last night did we see the potential of Santi and why there was so much buzz around his signing over the winter.
Mosquera started the match on the left wing, but as as you can see from the passing chart above, he floated around the pitch, finding gaps of space where they were available. Mosquera’s flexibility to play any position across the attack really challenged the young Union defense, as Mosquera was able to showcase his speed in this one.
Santi was a little trigger happy, as he launched a team high 7 shots, with three forcing a save from Andre Blake. Santi was a bit unlucky to not find the back of the net in this one, especially when he was played through on goal but just pulled his shot wide of the far past early in the first half.
Players with a high shot volume can be a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s an indicator of a selfish player who’s seeking his own glory, but other times, it’s a sign that the player has confidence and is finding gaps in the defense. Santi’s high shot volume is a sign of the latter. His speed forced the Union defense to drop a bit deeper, out of fear of giving up too much space behind, thus leaving Santi with more room to maneuver.
It’s just one game, against a struggling Union team, but it highlighted his potential and what’s to come from the promising Young DP.
Hayes continues to shine
The offense looked really good last night, their runs behind the defense were causing all kinds of problems for the Union. Part of that was Cristian Colman hanging on the shoulders of the centerbacks and timing his runs perfectly, but the other part were the midfielders finding space and time to play the attackers in. A key part of that midfield was Jacori Hayes, who had for himself another stellar performance for FCD.
Hayes was everywhere, doing Hayes like things; disrupting the flow of attack and keeping the ball moving quickly to the Mosquera and Michael Barrios.
Hayes seems to have established a quick and good connection with Victor Ulloa. It’s probable that when Kellyn Acosta returns that he’ll find his way back into the starting lineup with Carlos Gruezo, but it’s good to know that there’s another central midfield pairing that’ll won’t skip a beat.
Is this the real Roland Lamah?
The most surprising player this year, for me, has been Roland Lamah. It’s not secret that he had a very disappointing debut season for FC Dallas last season, but he’s been playing up to his billing and it seems like things are finally clicking for the winger.
Lamah showcased his passing skills against the Union last night, playing perfectly weighted balls for Mosquera, Colman, and Barrios to latch on to. His combined five key passes and assist alone, matched the entire Union offensive output. In fact, his assist last night puts his season tally to three, which matches his entire 2017 output in just 436 minutes vs 2157 minutes in 2017.
If this is the real Roland Lamah, and we keep getting the 2018 version of him, this Dallas team is going to do just fine.