The second game of the season is in the books as FC Dallas picked up a 2-0 win against the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy. Let’s hand out some ratings to wrap this game up.
Note: 6 is the rating given for an average MLS performance
Man of the Match: Paxton Pomykal (8.2): There was a huge “I told you so!”, belting out across FC Dallas Nation, from all fans toward the FCD coaching staff and management. We all sat there like proud parents, watching Paxton go out against LAG and do everything that we all swore he would do if he was simply given a chance. If you were one of the fans who were deprived of watching Paxton single handedly elevating the team expectations of every FCD fan across the world, then you came to the right place. Sit back, and enjoy all the touches by Paxton Pomykal against the LA Galaxy:
There are some passes, runs, and defensive recoveries, that just take your breath away. His performance did not go unnoticed around the league, as Paxton was named to the MLS Team of the Week:
Jessie Gonzalez (6.6) - Jesse didn’t actually have a lot to do this past weekend, as he only faced one shot on goal from LAG.
Reggie Cannon (6.5) - Reggie had everyone worried this past weekend, as he rolled his ankle pretty bad before halftime:
Reggie did finish out the first half before being subbed out, giving everyone hope that it was just a minor sprain, and that Reggie will not miss too much playing time.
Reto Ziegler (7.3) & Matt Hedges (7.9) Reto and Matt both had solid days at the office on defense, but let’s face it, we all simply remember them for this match sequence:
I’ve said this elsewhere, and now I’m saying it here, Ziegler is my dark horse to win the FC Dallas Golden Boot. The reasoning is simple, FCD is simply going to draw for PKs this season, more than at any point under Pareja, and he’ll end up taking most, if not all of them. Add to that his ability to score on corners, and set pieces, and Ziegler has a legit chance to hit double digits in goals.
Ryan Hollingshead (7.2) - I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but at times, Hollingshead was like a third center back against LAG:
Hollingshead was tied with Hedges, for most Clearances (purple) inside the box (four clearances). On top of that, he made a seamless transition from left back, to right back, following Reggie’s injury. Should Cannon miss any amount of time due to his injury, you can expect Hollingshead to be your starting right back. In the meantime, he is doing a great job of making it almost impossible for Luchi to start anyone else ahead of him.
Carlos Gruezo (7.7) - Gruezo had a monster game for FCD against the Galaxy. How big a game? Well, instead of throwing stats at you, how about we play a little guessing game? Here are two defensive chalkboards. One of these chalkboards, represent all the combined defensive actions of every midfielder or attacking player not named Gruezo (Acosta, Pomykal, Barrios, Badji, Mosquera, Cerrillo, and Aranguiz), the other chalkboard is all Gruezo. Which one of these belongs to Gruezo? (Hint: Gruezo did not have any Lost Tackles, red on the chalkboard):
What’s impressive about Gruezo’s chalkboard, is how his defensive actions cover the entire field. Gruezo is essentially a box-to-box defensive midfielder in this match. Gruezo didn’t stop there, as he also lead the team in touches (121 touches), pass attempts (104 attempts), and had 93.3% passing accuracy. Gruezo joined Pomykal on making the MLS Team of the Week.
Bryan Acosta (7.9) - What a difference one week makes. Last week, many were less than impressed with FCD’s newest DP, and this week, many are warming up to him. It helps when Acosta goes out and does this:
Acosta would finish with three shots (two on goal), one goal, four tackles, one interception, 66 pass attempts, 90.9% pass accuracy. Acosta’s goal has also been nominated for the MLS Goal of the Week.
Michael Barrios (6.3) - Considering last week’s performance, it’s hard to believe anybody saw this coming. Barrios never really got going, as he only had one shot attempt (not on goal), and was very quiet for large portions of the match. He did get on the ball a lot (50 touches), but he never really did anything with it (81.6% passing). It wasn’t as bad a game, as the rating would have you think, as he received a yellow card, which knocks him down a couple of rating points.
Dominique Badji (6.6) - Badji isn’t doing anything to make us forget Maxi Urruti. He does show improved hold up play, and he does cause headaches for the defense, but scoring is what we expect from our center forwards. It was actually a solid, if unspectacular match for Badji, and I was going to give him a higher rating, but then I remembered this:
I didn't think Diego Polenta's passing skills could be any worse after last week and I also can't believe Dominique Badji didn't bury this in an empty net. Wtf.— HotSpot Soccer (@HotSpotSoccer) March 9, 2019
0-0 | #DALvLA | #DTID | #LAGalaxy | pic.twitter.com/65RXIMPqK2
Santiago Mosquera (6.6) - Many FCD fans were knocking Mosquera for “disappearing” against the Galaxy. That’s actual far from the truth. The truth is actually a little hard to explain, but I’ll see what I can do. Below is both the passing/dribbling chart, and a heat map for Mosquera against LAG:
What stands out to me, is just how centralized the bulk of Mosquera’s touches were. From watching the match, it looked to me like Mosquera was playing a type of linking attacking midfielder, in that he would bring the ball towards the center, and pass it off to one of the other attacking players/midfielders, before drifting to the right wing to clear room for runs from Paxton or our left back. Mosquera had 79 touches, which is more than Paxton (78 touches), and more than Barrios and Badji combined (73 touches), despite playing less minutes.
The thing that failed Santi against LAG, is that unlike Paxton, he simply didn’t connect with any of his more aggressive passing attempts or crosses. It could be that Mosquera simply didn’t know what to do once he was near the box, or it could have very well been by design, as his drifts to the opposite wing were attempting to draw a defender with him (a type of decoy), thus clearing the left wing for others.
It’s something worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Marquinhos Pedroso (6.5) - Don’t misunderstand me when I say, that this was the perfect way for Pedroso to get back on the field. I’m not wishing harm on any FCD player, ever. What I mean, is that Pedroso needed a confidence boost coming off an injury, and being able to play an entire half without worrying whether he could go a full 90, was just what the doctor ordered. Pedroso was able to integrate into the match seamlessly, and didn’t show any signs of rust. The battle for the starting Left back spot between Pedroso and Hollingshead, is now fully 100% on.
Edwin Cerrillo (6.1) - You can’t help but be excited to see one of the youngest players on the team, come on to close out a meaningful match. Can’t wait to see more of Cerrillo.
Pablo Aranguiz (6.0) - Pablo got into the match in the final minutes, and it’s hopefully a sign that we will start to see more of him in the future.
Luchi Gonzalez (7.1) - For his first win in MLS, Luchi got his team to do something that FCD struggled to do in the past couple of seasons, and that is to comfortably defeat a lesser opponent. Under Pareja, it always looked as if FCD would play down to the level of the opponent, and the team would struggle against teams it should handily beat. Under Luchi, we finally saw some of what we had seen during the preseason, and that is improved play in the second half. All in all, a win that Luchi and FCD can build on.