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What we learned against Sporting Kansas City: The Shield is within reach

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Dallas move six points clear of LAFC following the win over SKC.

MLS: FC Dallas at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

FC Dallas stuck it to Kansas City this weekend for the first time in a while. I wouldn’t say we’re even yet, after all the grief they’ve caused us in USOC, but it’s definitely a start. Not only did we get a great result, but we also had a solid debut from Marinquinhos Pedroso, a Michael Barrios hat trick, and some Paxton Pomykal minutes.

Mikey B brushes the dust off

Despite having the best season of his career in 2017, Barrios has been disappointing (an understatement) this year. He’s been fairly criticized for his poor decision making and one-dimensional play, but his biggest shortcoming this season has been his inability to finish. He never showed us anything to prove that he was a 10 goal a season player, but he’s been outright bad in front of goal. Before bagging last night’s hat trick, he had been goalless in 20 games this season.

Maybe it was Colombian favoritism or lack of a replacement on the right, but Pareja has stuck with Barrios this season despite his struggles. I don’t want to say that one hat trick validates that, but it was exciting to see Barrios finally break through. If he can get hot in these last 13 games, then Dallas may find themselves contending for trophies that they never knew were in their reach.

Urruti as a second striker

This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Urruti play as a second striker. He’s supported Cristian Colman and Tesho Akindele up top quite a few times, but this was the first time I’ve seen Maxi Urruti listed as a 10 in the pre-game lineup.

It’s a small change, and FCD has a tendency to switch shape so often that the pregame lineups don’t mean much. But it’s Carter’s hint in the lineup notes that makes this change significant. He says that Urruti could see more time at this position with Badji leading the line at striker.

The more time I spend thinking about the Kellyn Acosta trade, the more I agree with it (as hard as it is to see Kellyn in a Rapids jersey). The front office has effectively replaced Tesho with a more consistent player.

Dominique Badji as a striker that stays in the box coupled with Urruti dragging defenders out of position with his runs could be a great combination. I’ve really liked Colman for his positioning because we have great wide players that are able to get him service, he just can’t ever finish the chances. Maxi doesn’t play the same way, so the crosses are wasted on him. But if you play Maxi as a 10 and Badji as a 9 that solves both of those problems and could be an attack strong enough to win Dallas some silverware.

Winning strategy

Dallas had been playing more of a possession based style than what we were used to in the previous weeks, but unsurprisingly they played for the counter against Sporting Kansas City. The ability to get results away from home is massive in this league, and Dallas getting three points for the first time in seven years at Children’s Mercy Park isn’t anything to scoff at.

In the past, Dallas have been one-dimensional, relying on players like Castillo or Diaz to create chances on counters, but more and more Dallas are looking like a versatile and multifaceted team that can adapt to their opponents play, or force their opponents to play the way they want.

Dallas have more attacking options than ever, and not enough games to experiment with their various starting 11 options. This unprecedented depth is a great problem to have. Just a few weeks ago we were crying wolf that Dallas may not have the depth to compete for the rest of this season, but a few quick moves by the front office later, and Dallas are in a great place.