Two weeks ago roughly, you all voted Ryan Hollingshead the winner of the last regular season Workhorse. Will he be in the mix again? Not quite, right?
Hey there. How are you? You seem to be dragging into the (virtual) office a little slower than normal. Working a little overtime to get that crucial project done? Go partying with the gang? Or stay up late to watch your beloved soccer team gut out a penalty kick win to advance in the playoffs?
They Did Enough
I’m already seeing plenty of mixed takes about last night’s playoff win over Portland, and I agree with them. FC Dallas came into this game with high hopes to dictate the pace of play and didn’t start to gel until late when Portland’s heavy legs and lack of depth began to take a toll on the home side. Pepi’s goal was a result of Portland’s collective defensive miscue and the 17 year old doing what he does best - score goals.
Going forward, the team will need to build on this and find ways to be more dangerous in the offensive third. At this point in the season, maybe that ship has sailed, and Dallas just needs to be pragmatic until their run ends. Still, we know this team can score goals. They’ve got a nice long break and plenty of days of practice to begin thinking about LAFC or Seattle and how to repeat the result last night.
The Little Things
One of the big storylines running through this season has been whether or not Luchi Gonzalez was going to improve as a coach. Taking the long view, he has, even if it hasn’t been as abrupt or magical as fans might have hoped for. He has shown a willingness to tinker and adjust lineups to get the most out of players. He is becoming more comfortable with finding pragmatic ways to carve out a result.
Last night, he out-coached Timbers headman Savarese even if it wasn’t a master class. Dallas did look a step slow for most of the game. The lineup was intriguing, definitely a shade toward defensive with John Nelson and Ryan Hollingshead working together on the left side. The midfield really couldn’t control the game, and Dallas had a bunch of turnovers though. Still, they kept Portland in front of them and mostly limited the attacks. It could have been worse, but they got the job done.
But Luchi did one thing really well - he had his side practice PKs before the match. Evidently, Savarese did not. In the end, did it pay off? Yes. Maybe it was just that little edge to give his guys some confidence at that moment.
Sometimes, it’s those little things can bring about a big result.
Let’s talk about one fascinating little nugget out of the game - Ema Twumasi. Twumasi is still trying to break into the first team with Dallas, and he started to earn a few minutes late toward the season. His substitution into a sort of midfield role was out of the blue, at least to me, and the fact that he ended up bringing energy and being trusted with a crucial PK in the shootout is a glimmer of something. Maybe this kid has a future with the squad. If Dallas can extend this run, does Twumasi become an unlikely hero? We’ll see.
Here in order of recommendation are my nods for Workhorse of the Week (who went the full 120 minutes):
Jimmy Maurer: What else can be said that hasn’t been said. He was solid throughout the match. He is our No. 1 keeper, and he got a big win over his former head coach. His crucial save in the shoot out against Villafana, who scored Portland’s only goal, had to feel like some vindication. Great game.
Matt Hedges: He brought his usual defensive mastery last night (this morning). And added an assist.
Franco Jara: He had a goal ruled offside, which was probably right, and while it may not have been his best night, he battled for 120 minutes. I like his heart.
Cast your vote below, drink your coffee, and get ready for next week.
Cast your vote for the Workhorse of the Week.
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