FC Dallas finally got their first win at home since May 7th in a packed house for Star Wars night. Let’s look at three takeaways from a huge win for Los Toros.
1) The bunker worked…again…and better!
To be totally fair, it probably is not accurate to describe what FCD did in the second half against the Galaxy as a “bunker”, but for the purposes of this article and following up on last week, I’m going to use the term bunker.
The game against the Galaxy followed a similar overall trend to the previous match against RSL, pick up an early goal and then, as Nico Estevez might say, “suffer” through a good deal of opposition pressure. Obviously, the big difference in this game was FCD continued to be threatening going forward, testing Jonathan Bond on a number of occasions in the first and second halves, while the FCD attack basically went completely missing in the second half against RSL.
But playing defensive and conceding possession once again worked for Los Toros and it was far more effective than it was against the Galaxy. Although FCD did of course concede the penalty in the second half (more on that in point 2), the Galaxy were limited in their chance creation, only generating 3 shots on target throughout the game and going on a 25 minute stretch between the 68th and 93rd minute where they did not even record a shot at all. In an ideal world, FCD take some of those chances and the win is far more comfortable than it ended up being, but after so many games where leads were lost late, it is fantastic to see that FCD has regained some of their ability to successfully close out games and put up clean sheets.
2) Match-winner Maarten
For the second game running, goalkeeper Maarten Paes was unquestionably the man of the match, coming up with a massive penalty save on LA Galaxy striker Dejan Joveljic. Beyond the penalty save, Paes was, once again, fantastic, making a few other strong saves, including some impressive ones that were ultimately chalked off due to offside calls on the Galaxy, and showing a very strong command of his box on crosses into the box. FCD undoubtedly has some defensive frailties, Ema Twumasi, though he was very solid against the Galaxy, is still learning how to properly play right back, Jose Martinez, although very solid in possession, has some clear deficiencies defending in open space and there isn’t a lot of depth on the backline if players have to miss time due to injuries. With all that in mind, it is massive and crucial for the team that Paes continues his strong performances going into the final 11 games of the season. He has certainly picked a great time to be in such great form.
3) Jara’s best performance of the season
Speaking of players picking a good time to hit a good run of form, the much maligned Franco Jara had his best performance of the season. With a number of injuries to central midfielders, Nico Estevez and his staff elected to roll out a 4-4-2 look with Jesus Ferreira playing as an off striker underneath Jara, who basically played as a target striker. This seems to be the way forward for Jara as, besides his very well taken goal, he was very good playing as a target striker. His hold up play was excellent, allowing FCD an outlet out of the back and bringing play forward and the role allowed him to do less running and pressing than he would normally do playing as a simple like for like replacement for Ferreira. If Jara can maintain this kind of performance, whether starting or coming off the bench, down the stretch this season, FCD will benefit massively.
4) Star Wars Night!
Bonus takeaway this week! Nothing to do with anything on the field but I felt it was worth mentioning that the club really nailed Star Wars Night. Any time a sports team does a themed night, there is a certain amount of skepticism that comes up as many times they just feel like cheap attempts to get a few more people in the door. But FCD really went all out with it, having cosplayers from the 501st Legion and other groups at the game for photo opportunities, a (admittedly very cheesy but probably cool for the little ones) lightsaber duel on the stage before the game, some on-screen videos editing players into famous Star Wars scenes, the Paul Arriola bobbleheads, the light up FCD-branded lightsabers, and the real attraction, the post-game drone show. Much like the last drone show after the Seattle game in May (the last time they won at home before Saturday…coincidence?), the production value of the show was very high and the crowd seemed to love the show, a big part of the crowd stuck around to watch it. It was the kind of thing that would have been unimaginable for FCD to pull off in years past and it is a testament to the improved and increased focus on the stadium experience. There’s still a lot of work to do on that front but it is a positive sign from the front office.
How are you feeling after FCD’s first home win in almost three months? Are they poised to make the playoffs or will the difficult upcoming schedule spell their demise? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Shafak Anowar/Dallas Morning News