We talked about it all week leading up to the match. While the offensive electricity of guys like Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo make the headlines, FCD was going to have problems against Chivas USA if they couldn't slow down one of the hottest players in the league, Mauro Rosales.
On Saturday night, FC Dallas was able to shut down Rosales and it's perhaps the least talked about but most important aspect of the 3-1 win that sees FCD go top of the Western Conference.
Before we look at Saturday's match, let's take a quick look back to see just how good Rosales was through his first two games.
In the opening match of the season against Chicago, Rosales was by far the best player on the field and had two assists in the match, but even more than that, the Argentine absolutely peppered the Chicago box throughout the match with cross after cross as evidenced by his OPTA passing chart from the game.
As you can see, 29 successful passes, 26 unsuccessful passes, 7 successful crosses, 14 unsuccessful crosses. That means Rosales sent in TWENTY ONE CROSSES in that game. They didn't all work, but that's pretty scary. Everything is into the box whether it worked or not which is not what you want if you're an opposing defense. In total, Rosales had 141 actions in that match, by far the most of any player on the field.
Now let's take a look at his game against Vancouver where Rosales had the lone assist of the match.
Same song, different verse. Despite being down to 10 men for most of the match, Rosales completed 52 passes, the most of anyone on Chivas USA. While he didn't have quite as high a number of crosses, it's undeniable to see his impact on the match given the stats and passing grid above. Rosales had 151 actions in the match, by far the most of anyone on the pitch and one of the highest numbers you'll see in an MLS game this season.
Now for the good stuff, let's see how Dallas handled Rosales on Saturday night.
Those dots are fewer and farther between aren't they? FCD limited Rosales to 26 completed passes but just as important he only had 15 unsuccessful passes combining for 41 total passes attempted compared to 53 against Chicago and 69 against Vancouver. Rosales had 95 total OPTA actions against FCD which, while it was still the most on Chivas USA, was far, far fewer than he's had in his previous two games this season. Long story short, the numbers show that Rosales had a 30-40% lower impact on Saturday's game.
Also, it's subtile but if you look at the heat maps in each of the three games, you can see how Mauro's actions were a good 10-15 yards closer to the midfield line than against Chicago or Vancouver. The plays he was making were farther from the goal, vastly limiting his impact on the match.
Finally, another key aspect to limiting Rosales was the set piece numbers. Against Chicago, Rosales and Chivas USA had 10 corner kicks, scoring the game-winning goal from a Rosales corner kick late in the match. It was a similar story in their draw against Vancouver with six corners to the Whitecaps' zero. On Saturday, FCD limited Chivas USA to only three corner kicks and commited just five fouls in their own half of the field for the whole match and did not foul Chivas USA once in their attacking third until the 61st minute of the match.
If you want to stop Chivas USA's offense, you limit Mauro Rosales' touches in the attacking third and don't give him an opportunity to beat you on set pieces. FC Dallas did just that on Saturday night and earned an impressive three points.
Multimedia Manager Aaron Griffin brings you The Final Word on Saturday's big win with great goals and post-game comments from Pareja & Hedges:
Here's Oscar's ten-minute post-Chivas USA press conference audio:
We caught up with defenders Matt Hedges & Stephen Keel as well as coach Oscar Pareja to talk Saturday's game with our weekly Quick Kicks:
It's the second home game of the season on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas is taking on a suddenly potent Chivas USA squad. Scott Brown and I break down the goats in our Toyota Keys to the Match:
By Mohammad Bushnaq
FC Dallas and Chivas USA meet for the first time this year on Saturday. Last year, the two teams battled three times and FC Dallas ended the season with a 1-1-1 record vs. the Goats.
Game 1 - 3/10: The first meeting between the two red-and-white franchises ended with Chivas standing their ground at home in a strong stretch of early season form, defeating FC Dallas 3-1. David Ferreira opened the scoring for FC Dallas in the 57th minute, but the Hoops surrendered three goals late from Agudelo, Minda, and Casillas. It was the first road game of the season and FC Dallas left Southern Califronia empty-handed.
Game 2 - 7/4: Independence Day was the next meeting between the two teams. For all the fireworks that were available at the end of the match, the on-field display fizzled out. Raul Fernandez was the hero for the Hoops making seven saves in a game that ended scoreless in front of a sell-out crowd at Toyota Stadium.
Game 3 - 8/21: The final meeting of the season came on a must-win scenario during the playoff push and FC Dallas delivered with a 3-1 victory at the StubHub Center. It took a comeback effort with substitutes David Ferreira and Ramon Nunez finding late goals to secure the three points on the road and snap the longest winless streak in club history.
Was a hard-fought point against the defending champions on the road enough to get FC Dallas moving up in the national power rankings? Opinions vary pretty wildly.
MLSSoccer.com disagrees, dropping FC Dallas to 13th (12th last week) in their latest power rankings despite the late heroics by the Hoops on Saturday saying: "Huge, huge point at KC in a game that was more knife fight than soccer match. Dallas had just one shot on goal on the night, but Matt Hedges made it count with that towering header."
Pro Soccer Talk moved FCD up two spots to 13th saying: Sporting Kansas City dominated play, but FC Dallas only conceded from a late corner. Play that match again (or, play it with Graham Zusi), and Dallas isn’t going to be so fortunate, but we did learn something about Óscar Pareja’s team in the process. Even without George John, the capable of staying organized in their defensive third, even if they had trouble doing so at times against Montréal. (1-0-1)
FCD jumped two spots in the Soccer By Ives power rankings up to 10th place with Ives recognizing the greatness of Matt Hedges: FC Dallas could have counted themselves lucky to face the Montreal Impact without Andres Romero, Nelson Rivas, and Marco Di Vaio in week one, but they put together a solid performance last Saturday at Sporting Kansas City. Matt Hedges, the goal scorer, continues to grow and should be counted on all year to be a big presence in the box at both ends of the field.
ESPNFC.com elevated FC Dallas to 6th place (10th last week) citing the never-say-die attitude claiming, "It was easy to dismiss last week's win over struggling Montreal but fighting back to tie Kansas City is an effort that will draw a bit more notice, especially given the defensive pieces FCD is missing. It certainly amounts to an encouraging start."
Sports Illustrated: Planet Futbol slightly lifted the FCD lads to 9th place (10th last week) citing their solid beginning to the season as the reason for the movement, "Dallas has two good results to kick off the season, taking a point off the defending champion after winning at home the first week. Kansas City had an eye on the Champions League, but it still put out a strong lineup and had more chances to score."
Earlier this afternoon, Chris Seitz took to Twitter to ask you guys whether he should keep the beard or shave it?
Here at Toyota Stadium, we're partial to a little #FearTheBeard action, but what do you guys think?
Shave it? Keep it? Let us know in the poll!
P.S. In case you didn't know, Seitz has been pretty much awesome so far this season and currently sits tied for second in saves in MLS.
FC Dallas' next opponent has had a solid start to the 2014 season after a disappointing 2013. Chivas USA opened their campaign with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire in week one and managed a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in week two despite losing midfielder Agustin Pelletieri to a red card in the 13th minute.
It's a small sample size, but Chivas USA's encouraging peformances thus far have prompted MLSsoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe to break down whether or not the Goats are the real deal?
What do you think of Wiebe's analysis?