We're only through week three of the season and power rankings are tough to put too much stock into, but FCD's case is an interesting one because the national pundits vary wildly on where Oscar Pareja's undefeated team stands in the league pyramid at the moment. Let's take a look at some of the power rankings:
Starting off with Soccer By Ives, Dan Karell has FCD in ninth place, one of the lowest you'll find. Dan says:
"FC Dallas put Chivas USA back in their place when they visited Toyota Stadium on Saturday. Mauro Diaz continues to be the heartbeat of the FC Dallas midfield and a healthy Michel only helps on set pieces."
Liviu Bird of SI.com has FCD a spot higher in 8th saying:
"Dallas had plenty of scoring chances against Chivas but struggled to convert until the second half. Fabián Castillo made a good run from deep on a free kick to give his team the lead, and two more goals followed as Dallas turned a close game into a comfortable result. Óscar Pareja’s team is already clicking better than last year."
The clearly brilliant friends of ours at MLSsoccer.com have FCD jumping all the way up to the top spot in MLS at #1:
A more local take, Kevin Lindstrom at 3rd Degree has FC Dallas in 7th saying:
"While the top record in the West has a lot of FCD fans giddy with excitement, there still remains questions about this club. Injuries again rear their ugly head, and the late, questionable tackle from Thomas put Pareja’s men in a tight spot with what has got to be a frustrated and getting close to desperate Timbers group coming into town for Saturday’s clash. Diaz is the real deal at home, and we saw both wings blossom against a solid Chivas USA side last Saturday..."
ProSoccerTalk has FCD up five spots into eighth this week after Saturday's win:
"Pros – most points in the league; MLS’s best attack; Mauro Díaz and Fabian Castillo; a set-up that is going to give Castillo and Je-Vaughn Watson a chance to embarrass defenders all year. Cons – their schedule; their defense; not knowing whether Watson can maintain Saturday’s level all season. (2-0-1)"
ESPNFC thinks highly of FCD having them at the #5 spot after week three:
"Mauro Diaz continued to blaze a path toward legend status in Dallas, as his influence on Saturday's 3-1 win over Chivas USA was considerable. His through-ball on Je-Vaughn Watson's goal was sublime. The only downer for FCD? Hendry Thomas' red card."
The secret is beginning to get out. Mauro Diaz is really, really good. Matt Doyle and Dan Haiek break down what makes him so great in a special edition of MLSsoccer.com's Scouting Report:
The accolades are rolling in for FC Dallas players after Saturday's 3-1 win over Chivas USA. For the second time this season and second home game in a row, Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo were named to the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week.
They had this to say about the FCD players:
MF: Fabián Castillo (FC Dallas) – Rampaged through Chivas USA’s soft middle during the first half, and started the scoring by linking up well with his teammates.
MF: Mauro Díaz (FC Dallas) – The young DP bounced back from a quiet performance last week with another strong game, showing he can set teammates up on dead balls as well as the run of play.
Maybe we could've gotten Je-Vaughn Watson at least on the bench for his performance, but we won't complain about getting two players on the list.
The ProSoccerTalk guys also had Fabian and Mauro in their best XI adding a deserved inclusion for Jair Benitez who did a great job with Mauro Rosales on Saturday night.
Jair Benítez, FC Dallas – What was supposed to be a matchup between him and Chivas USA right midfielder Mauro Rosales never materialized. Instead, Benítez used the space he was afforded to have an impact going forward, especially as Dallas turned up the heat in the second half.
Winning is fun.
When you're in first place, everyone wants to chat with you and head coach Oscar Pareja joined the MLSsoccer.com guys yesterday for an interview on ExtraTime Radio. There's some great info in here from Oscar talking about the team, Academy, players like David Texeira and much more.
They kick the show off with some FCD talk and Oscar hops on about 5 minutes in.
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.