MLS Regular Season
By Mohammad Bushnaq
In the next edition of our series, we take a look back at 2013 to see how the Hoops fared against the Timbers across all competitions from last season. FC Dallas struggled to find their footing against a very good Portland team, accumulating a total record of 0-3-1 in four games last season.
Game 1 - May 8, 2013 - FC Dallas 1, Portland Timbers FC 1: On a Wednesday night in Frisco, undefeated FC Dallas tried to keep their home record perfect against Portland, also undefeated on the young season. The Timbers struck first through a Darlington Nagbe volley in the 70th minute. FC Dallas earned the equalizer seven minutes later after Andrew Jean-Baptiste pulled Blas Perez down in the penalty area. Kenny Cooper buried the penalty kick, but FC Dallas was unable to find a late winner in front of the FCD faithful. The final score on the night was a 1-1 draw.
Game 2 - June 15, 2013 - FC Dallas 0 Portland Timbers FC 1: FC Dallas went in to (newly renamed) Providence Park for the rematch a month later. Raul Fernandez was the star of the day, making seven saves in an effort to keep the Hoops in the match. His scrambling save on Diego Chara was one of his best of the season. Unfortunately, it was not enough as Fernandez was beaten by an unstoppable shot from Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe in the 52nd minute. FC Dallas was not able to break through the Portland defense, conceding a 1-0 defeat on the road.
USOC HIGHLIGHTS: FCD 2, PTFC 3
Game 3 - June 26, 2013 - FC Dallas 2 Portland Timbers FC 3: In front of the home crowd on a Wednesday evening in Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Quarterfinal action. FC Dallas raced out to a quick 1-0 lead on a sweet strike from your favorite Jamaican, Je-Vaughn Watson, in the 15th minute. Portland responded with three unanswered goals in the second half with Darlington Nagbe scoring a beautiful individual effort. Nagbe then proceeded to set up Diego Valeri on a breakaway to give his team the 2-1 lead. A bad back pass from then-rookie Walker Zimmerman cost FC Dallas dearly as Piquionne rounded Seitz for the 3rd goal of the game. Blas Perez received a gift from Donovan Ricketts to get FCD their 2nd goal of the game and set the stage for a furious rally in which David Ferreira hit the post on what was basically the final kick of the match, but it was not enough. The final score in Frisco was 3-2 in favor of the Timbers and Dallas was eliminated from the US Open Cup.
Game 4 - August 17, 2013 - FC Dallas 1 Portland Timbers FC 2: The final meeting of the season against the Portland Timbers was not a pleasant trip to the Pacific Northwest for FC Dallas. Darlington Nagbe scored the game winner, his fourth goal of the season against FC Dallas to lead his team to a 2-1 victory at home. Portland was first to get on the scoreboard, with Valeri sending Ryan Johnson in to beat Raul Fernandez. FC Dallas quickly responded with a beautiful passing sequence that led to Mauro "The Magician" Diaz scoring his first goal as an FC Dallas player. Unfortunately, Darlington Nagbe continued to play well against the Hoops by smashing one past Raul Fernandez. All three goals were scored in a span of seven minutes in the first half. Nagbe's goal sent FC Dallas home with an 11 game winless streak with a 2-1 loss against the Timbers.
Here's this week's Toyota Keys to the Match where we discuss what FCD needs to do to keep their unbeaten season going against Portland:
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."
Here are all the best shots from Saturday's game vs Chivas USA:
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.
EDIT: Our $10 link has expired but we've seen such great success that we're opening it up at the gates! Show up to the Toyota Stadium box office tomorrow with your student ID and you can score a $10 endline ticket while supplies last!
Attention college students! Saturday night at Toyota Stadium is college night and we're offering a great discount for you to watch first-place FC Dallas take on the Portland Timbers.
College students can score $10 endline tickets for Saturday night's game as first-place and undefeated FC Dallas battles Western Conference rival Portland Timbers in what should be another heart-stopping game at Toyota Stadium.
Students with a valid ID can purchase $10 endline tickets while supplies last by showing your student ID at the north box office.
All tickets previously purchased through the link will be at north box office will call and can be picked up with a valid student ID!
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.
More greatness taking a final look back at Saturday's win over Chivas USA:
EDIT: Castillo currently leads voting with only one day left! Get those votes in for Fabian!
For the second week out of three, FC Dallas is nominated for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week!
This week, it's Fabian Castillo's 71st-minute strike to give FC Dallas the lead in their 3-1 victory over Chivas USA. With the goal, Castillo has already equaled his goal output for 2013 and looks set for his biggest year yet in 2014.
WATCH: GOTW Week 3
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.