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Scratching the Chalkboard: Santi’s hat trick fueled by the solid defense

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Love to Santi is deserved, but so was the play by Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler

MLS: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas took their chances and dismantled the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, thanks to a three goal, hat trick performance from Santiago Mosquera. Rightfully Mosquera was named the man of the match, and he’ll deserve all the headlines before Dallas kicks off again on Saturday, but there were some spectacular contributions from Santi’s teammates that also deserve a look at.

The gift of Ricaurte

With all the injuries and recent transfers the make up of Dallas has changed quite drastically, but that has worked out in Luchi and company’s favor. With Reggie Cannon off to Europe, the doors have opened for Bryan Reynolds to get some minutes at right back. His arrival is reminding me a bit of another Dallas Homegrown on the field, Kellyn Acosta. Like Acosta, Reynolds got his start at right back but I’m not entirely sure if that’s his final and best position.

What Reynolds brings is a lot of attacking flair and bundles and bundles of pace in the attack. He’s a joy to watch when he’s isolated 1v1 near the opposition’s penalty area, feinting, stepping and just toying with the helpless defender. We get to see more of that because of Dallas’ new #10 in Andres Ricaurte.

Ricaurte’s passing chart vs COL

We didn’t get to see it in its fullest glory, but you can see that the attackers are making more aggressive runs on the counter and on the break, knowing that if they make their runs right, Ricaurte will find them.

This was particularly helpful since this isn’t the Colorado Rapids of old, where their soccer was bland like a meal at Luby’s. This is a new Rapids under head coach Robin Fraser who had his Rapids thump their rivals Real Salt Lake 5-0 in the previous game. The Rapids came into the game against Dallas having had 57% of possession against RSL and then 66% of possession the game before against Houston.

The Rapids held onto the ball against Dallas (62%) but were unable to do much thanks to Ricaurte’s presence and vision that guided the counter for Santi Mosquera, Michael Barrios, Franco Jara and Reynolds.

Consistency Dependable Center back Pairing

They’re definitely not the sexiest players to talk about, but Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler have both quietly become the most solid foundation and base for this Dallas team. They don’t garner much attention because they’re not physically imposing defenders, which typically dominate the attention as far as central defenders go, but both Ziegler and Hedges have done a remarkable job this season in keeping everything in front of them. I cannot recall off the top of my head of a team routinely getting behind the Dallas defense, if ever at all in 2020.

Dallas has given up 10 goals in 10 games, which ties them for third best in the league. This has been remarkable given Dallas is now currently down to their third and fourth choice keepers due to injury and poor life choices.

Ziegler and Hedges’ defensive actions vs COL

Both Hedges and Ziegler were pretty busy inside the penalty area as Colorado whipped in 31 crosses Wednesday night. The Dallas pairing did their jobs remarkably well and very tidily, with most clearances actually landing at the feet or head of a Dallas midfielder.

The old adage is that “defense wins championships” is ringing true here. Despite what others claimed last season about Dallas having their second best offensive output in 2019 with 54 goals in the regular season, this team’s offense is still wildly inconsistent. Yes, technically Dallas’ 54 goals was the second most scored in a season by the club, but they also had one of the most 0 goal games in a season too (11 games without a goal).

Dallas scored in bunches, which is nice, but still needs more consistency in front of goal. Dallas went three straight games without a goal (30% of their 2020 games, which is roughly the same as their 2019 output of 33% without a goal in their 2019 games). Until the Dallas offense finds their attacking rhythm, they’ll need to be thankful that they’ve got a solid defensive foundation to build off of in Hedges and Ziegler