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Scratching the Chalkboard: The Crowning of the Prince

Aranguiz first start brings the magic

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

FC Dallas ended their first losing streak of 2018 with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Minnesota United. It wasn’t always comfortable as the game was delayed by several hours as a storm went through the area. Thankfully, the team kept things loose in the locker room and were able to play this one out properly without playing down to their opponent.

Crowning of El Principito?

Pablo “El Principito” (Little Prince) Aranguiz got his first start in FCD colors last night. Donning the #10 and playing in the attacking midfield role (though he started out wide), he did everything to shed the memory of Mauro Diaz and put his stamp on in the hearts of the fans that this team will continue to succeed under his reign.

Aranguiz’s passing chart vs MIN (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Aranguiz didn’t get on the score sheet, but he made his presence known immediately by constantly driving directly into the Minnesota defense.

Aranguiz through ball to Cannon

Not all this passes in the final third came through like this one above to Reggie Cannon (more on Cannon later), but it’s his patience and vision and ability to find where the defense is caught flat footed will be an incredible asset to this team moving forward.

Obviously teams will start to take notice of his vision and passing abilities and will step up better to close him down quicker than Minnesota did. However, should you choose to step up, do so at your own risk:

Aranguiz dribbles past the Loons

El Principito gracefully slaloms past four defenders to get a shot off that was on its way into the upper corner.

Nobody’s going to expect Aranguiz to be able to deliver a game like this for a whole match, but if he can provide 2-3 of these moments of magic every now and then, this team will be in great hands under Aranguiz’s care.

Reggie “The Man” Cannon

Cannon should’ve finished his chance from that Aranguiz through ball, but aside from that, he had probably his most complete game in an FCD uniform.

Cannon’s passing chart vs MIN (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Cannon got forward when he could, timing his runs to perfection without sacrificing any defensive shape. To be fair, Minnesota provided no threat to the defense for the entire evening but still.

Cannon spins around his defender

It’s simple, and small but the best part of this sequence wasn’t his spin around Eric Miller (though it did bring the crowd to its feet), but rather how many times he looked up to find a target inside the penalty area. His final pass didn’t reach Domique Badji, who was basically well covered, but it’s the little things that Cannon does that makes him such a quality fullback in this league.

Time and time again, we’ve seen someone like Moises Hernandez who would beat every right back down the flank but just blast a cross into no man’s land without seeing if he had a target in the area or not. Cannon should have pulled the ball back and try to win a corner or reset the ball instead of trying to force a pass into a heavily defended area, but given his improvement over the course of the year, this will come very soon.

Props to the D

Without Darwin Quintero and Ethan Finlay, this Loon attack is incredibly tame. Minnesota managed just eight shots and only one forced a save out of Jimmy Maurer, and even then it was from 28 or so yards out.

Minnesota’s shot chart vs the FCD defense (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

Minnesota’s offense is bad, but to a degree this was also a completely performance from captain Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa and Maurer manning the spine of the defense.

Hedges and Figueroa’s defense chart (Orange - recovery. Green - successful tackle. Blue - interception. Purple - clearance.)

Dallas enjoyed a bulk of the possession (58.9%), so neither centerbacks were called into too much action. But this was one of those games where the opposition, much like that San Jose match, was banking on one fluky play or mistake from the defense to capitalize on. Their combined experienced took care of business and held on to provide the team with yet another clean sheet.

Dallas won’t be able to savor this performance for long as they will now have to shift gears quickly and prepare for their next encounter, the Texas Derby on Thursday.