By Mohammad Bushnaq
FC Dallas retained "El Capitan" with a crushing 4-1 victory over the Orange in Houston. After an action-packed back and forth first half, FC Dallas pounced on an ejection to Dynamo CB David Horst in the 60th minute to score three goals in ten minutes and seize the match with force from their rivals. With the Texas Derby win, FC Dallas has sole possession of the top of the table. Do the league writers all agree that this team is the concensus number one team in MLS right now?
MLSSoccer.com writers are way ahead of the curve. They had FC Dallas in 1st place of their rankings after the Chivas USA victory and have not looked back since. The league website editors cite this team's danger on set-pieces as a game-changer that could win matches even if the team is not having a great game.
COMMENT: Even if they're not playing well, they're always so dangerous on set pieces that they can just bury you. It was even through an hour this weekend, then Houston gave 'em an inch. And then it was over.
ESPNFC.com finally joined the party, elevating FC Dallas to the top spot in their rankings (3rd last week) while marveling at Je-Vaughn Watson's performance for the Hoops on Saturday. To Jeff Carlisle, this FC Dallas team is thriving because of Hendry Thomas in the center of the park.
COMMENT: Je-Vaughn Watson stuck it to his old team and then some, scoring twice and forcing an own goal in a 4-1 win over Houston. On the defensive side of things, Hendry Thomas was solid again in midfield, and it's clear his trade to the club was a steal.
Goal.com's Ives Galarcep also has the Hoops atop his latest power rankings. Ives believes FC Dallas will have their biggest test yet when they face the Seattle Sounders this weekend.
COMMENT: Oscar Pareja's side took full advantage of a second-half red card draw by Houston, ripping the Dynamo apart after David Horst's sending off. Je-Vaughn Watson did the most damage, punishing his former club to the tune of two goals. FCD's hold on first place in the West will be tested by the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
Sports Illustrated's Planet Futbol are the only major media outlet that do not have FC Dallas at the top of their rankings. Planet Futbol says that FC Dallas was struggling before the red card changed the match.
COMMENT: Until David Horst’s red card for the Dynamo, FC Dallas was on the ropes. It opened the scoring against the run of play, benefitting from a Ricardo Salazar call on the penalty, and Chris Seitz made a couple big saves until Horst was sent off. Dallas took advantage, scoring on a set piece and a counterattack to win big, but without that red card, the story may have been different.
FC Dallas chopped down the Timbers at Toyota Stadium last Saturday in a weird match that saw two red cards issued to both teams in the first half. The league-wide editors seem to be jumping on the DTID bandwagon early in the season with FC Dallas and most national pundits have them on the higher end of the rankings. Let's take a look:
MLSSoccer.com kept FC Dallas atop their MLS Power Rankings. Last week, they had the Hoops jumping 12th place to 1st place. This week, no radical changes for FCD as they maintained the top spot in the rankings.
COMMENT: "Mauro Díaz is the Power Rankings Politburo's MVP of March. That goal against Portland felt inevitable – he was the best player on the field throughout."
Our friends at ESPNFC.com are slowly but surely creeping FC Dallas up on their lists, placing FC Dallas at 3rd place in their rankings (last week 5th). They hint at FC Dallas playing so many matches at home so far has helped their record.
COMMENT: "Who cares if FCD's record is a tad inflated by playing three of four at home? Oscar Pareja's side has done the job despite missing half a starting back line. And, yes, Mauro Diaz continues to dazzle. Dallas impresses from practically every vantage point."
SI.com's Planet Futbol has FC Dallas grounded in comparison to the rest of the bunch at 4th place. SI.com cited last year's hot start to the season as a reason for cautious optimism for this 2014's fiery beginning.
COMMENT: Last year’s second half of the season should show Dallas fans why it’s dangerous to be excited about a fast start, but their team is on top of the Western Conference standings after a month. Mauro Díaz again provided a spark, and the 23-year-old looks like a good early candidate for Newcomer of the Year.
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."
It is time to take a look around the sports world and see what the national writers are saying about your Hoops after their season-opening victory vs. Montreal Impact on March 8th.
MLSSoccer.com rose FC Dallas three spots higher in their rankings to #12 saying "After one week, Mauro Díaz looks like he's legit. And we love the fact that they'll have Blas Pérez for the entire season. But that defense..."
ESPNFC.com also moved FCD three spots up to #10 after their win with a very similar comment, "Mauro Diaz looked every bit the worthy heir to David Ferreira, winning a penalty and scoring on a gorgeous free kick in a 3-2 win over Montreal. The defense still needs work, but Oscar Pareja at least celebrated his return to Dallas with a win."
NBC: Pro Soccer Talk didn't release rankings last week, but they opening FC Dallas at #15 overall, the lowest of any of the major outlets(booo). "Three points on opening night provided a great start to the Óscar Pareja era, but the absence of Marco Di Vaio, a questionable penalty, and the overall quality of their opponent leaves questions unanswered."
Sports Illustrated: Planet Futbol has FC Dallas at #10 overall saying that "Óscar Pareja’s return to Texas was victorious, albeit by a one-goal margin against a weak Montreal Impact. Blas Pérez had a solid showing, as did Mauro Díaz in central midfield. Díaz’s dive to earn a penalty was all that separated the teams in the end, but winning in MLS is often about a moment of fortune."
Soccer By Ives had some nice words to say about FCD, though they didn't rise from their preseason ranking of #12. "Mauro Diaz might just be the next big thing in MLS. And new coach Oscar Pareja had FC Dallas looking like a side that has been given a new lease on life after Saturday’s 3-2 win over Montreal."