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What we learned against Atlanta United: How to appreciate this team

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Veterans make solid contributions to a great result

MLS: Atlanta United FC at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Take your hand off of your mouse and put it in your lap. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, feel yourself expand, then feel your diaphragm contract as breathe out through your mouth.

We are going to enjoy this result. It was a fun game and the team did great. Too often we work hard to find the negative things instead of just enjoying the positives that are right in front of us. This is true in life, and even truer in the soccer blogsphere.

FC Dallas are Supporter’s Shield contenders. We just loaned out a homegrown player to Bayern Munich. Tesho Akindele scored a brace. Reto Ziegler scored a freekick.

These are all things we should be celebrating and they are much healthier and enjoyable to focus on than any of the negative storylines that sports writers, myself included, love to continually cover. So let’s excuse ourselves from that negativity and appreciate this team.

Victor New-lloa

Ulloa has often been criticized for lacking creativity. His favorite passes are backwards and sideways, and for a long time that’s what we needed out of him. But with Mauro Diaz leaving and Kellyn not providing the spark that we know he can, Victor stepped up in a big way this week by changing his game. Building off of a solid performance last week, Ulloa seemed much more willing to work into the final third. He picked some great passes to find holes in the disorganized Atlanta defense and recorded 3 key passes.

If the 4-4-2 is going to continue being successful, it really helps to have a player as versatile as Ulloa as one of the midfielders. His defensive contributions are always up to par, but if he can expand his skill set to start providing more attacking opportunities, he very well may be our best midfielder. As exciting as it is to see the kids develop, I love watching Victor adapt his game week to week. He has a veteran craftsmanship about him in these last couple games and the confidence is doing him wonders.

Reto is as Advertised

One of the selling points of the Ziegler transfer, when it was first announced, was that he was a great set piece taker. We hadn’t gotten to see much of that yet this season with Diaz taking most of the free kicks, so it was exciting to see a player that we thought we knew what he had to offer pull another trick out of his bag.

While I’m certainly sad about Mauro leaving, his departure has opened up new possibilities in terms of personnel and tactics. In the past it felt like Dallas weren’t much of a system, Mauro was the system (the system during the best years of FC Dallas history which speaks loads to his quality). When Dallas needed a chance, they relied on Mauro, but now Dallas may have more of a “next man up” mentality. When it’s your turn, you step up and do your job without excuses. Every player on the team belongs there and they all have something to contribute. And that’s exactly what Reto did.

Tesho Time

Tesho has been a magnet for criticism over the last few seasons, I’m not going to argue whether or not he deserves it, but instead remind FCD fans how many great memories he has given us over the years. Last night’s result is one that we will remember for many seasons and may end up being a turning point for this season. Don’t forget his beauty from last year against Houston that saved us from some embarrassment.

As much as we love the “play your kids” mentality, having guys like Tesho to provide a great example to those young men is crucial and underappreciated. Every account and anecdote I’ve heard about Tesho’s behavior off the field has been nothing but positive.

Frankly, Tesho has carved himself out a pretty good career. He’s making $122,500. He’s played on his national team. He’s won two trophies. He’s won rookie of the year. Dallas have not lost a post season game in which he has started. He scored the second hat trick in FCD history.

He is a player that is undeniably linked to the best years in FC Dallas history.

What (positive) observations do you have about the game? Forget staving off of meltdown, is this the start of something great for Dallas? Who’s performance impressed you the most?