FRISCO - It was the Homegrown show as FC Dallas defeated the Colorado Rapids for the second win of the season on Saturday afternoon. Before we turn the page to a trip to Real Salt Lake, let's dive into three things we can takeaway from the 2-1 result at home.
As Colorado netted the equalizer in the 69th minute, Luchi Gonzalez knew he needed an attacking spark to get the result at home. Having already brought on Santiago Mosquera for Pablo Aranguiz two minutes earlier - shifting Dominque Badji from his left wing role to center forward and in-turn moving Jesus Ferreira into an attacking midfield role we saw him play a week ago - Gonzalez turned to the third-youngest player and the third-oldest player on his roster to make their MLS debuts with the game on the line. It took all of two minutes to make an impact.
This is a 17-year-old just two minutes into his first MLS match showcasing the patience of a 10-year veteran to draw two defenders and split them with a lethal pass. Holy cow, @thomas_roberts. #FCDvCOL pic.twitter.com/IlHxNZ96oK— Carter Baum (@CarterBaum) March 24, 2019
On the game-winner, all three of Dallas' subs played the direct role in the ball laying out for Ryan Hollingshead's first goal in nearly 10 months (more on that front later). Mosquera finds the trailing Thomas Roberts, who delivers a perfect ball to Zdenek Ondrasek. The Cobra puts a quality shot on target, forcing a big save from the foot of Tim Howard and leaving the juicy rebound near the PK spot.
It's perhaps the most dramatic example of what has been a recurring theme for Gonzalez through the first four games: knowing who and what the game needs.
Against New England, Paxton Pomykal replaced Jacori Hayes out of injury necessity, but was able to seamlessly step in and control the midfield to close out the game, while added Ferreira in place of Mosquera to help control the ball and maintain possession in the final 10 minutes. Against LA, the debut of Edwin Cerrillo and season debut of Aranguiz again controlled the middle and closed out the game by passing it to death - remember that 59-pass sequence? Columbus saw Ferreira again, this time in a creating role in the middle and Aranguiz sending six crosses in in 10 minutes of action. And who could forget John Nelson's MLS debut with more of an attacking threat from the flank. If the game went on for another 5 minutes, FCD was buzzing like a team that could smell the goal coming.
Gonzalez knows his team, his players and has shown an incredible sense for what he needs to close out a match. It's early, but to date I can't count a single questionable sub who didn't fulfill an exact role needed in the match.
THE KIDS CAN PLAY
This one is pretty self-explanatory, both for the Roberts patience discussed above and, well, the numbers speak for themselves.
.@PaxiPomy 's game =— Steve Davis (@SteveDavis90) March 24, 2019
- 3 shots (best of both teams.)
- 88 touches (best of both teams)
- 87 % passing (3rd best @FCDallas)
- 2 chances created
- 4 fouls won (best of both teams)
That's what basketball fans call "filling up the box score."
MLS | Amazed at the FC Dallas academy today in their win over Colorado ⤵️— Football Wonderkidz (@FootWonderkidz) March 24, 2019
🔹 Ferreira (18) - key pass
🔹 Pomykal (19) - 2 key passes
🔹 Cannon (20) - 3 key passes
🔹 Cerrillo (18) - 8/14 duels
Our fave, sub Thomas Roberts (17) with the key pass that led to the GWG.
YOUTH. 👊 pic.twitter.com/jKRLeEeybF
Pomykal, in just his fourth game of the season, was the trusty veteran in the middle, the glue that held everything together for FCD. Simply put, the Homegrown was all over the place.
On top of the impressive numbers the great Steve Davis pointed out, going forward Pomykal operated at a 81.4 percent efficiency on his game-high 43 passes in the opponent's half.
In his first MLS start, 18-year-old Edwin Cerrillo looked anything but. He calmly put forth a team-high 69 passes at a second-best 89 percent success rate, with four tackles, four possessions gained and winning three of his shared team-high six aerial duels, in addition to the 8-for-14 ground duels singled out above.
And although he didn't find the net, Jesus Ferreira was active both with and without the ball. If it weren't for a glancing touch from Nicholas Mezquida, he'd have his first MLS assist after spinning away from pressure at the top of the box and finding Michael Barrios for the opening goal.
FLYING ON THE WINGS
Against the Rapids' diamond midfield, Dallas had their busiest day yet with the overlapping outside backs in Reggie Cannon and Ryan Hollingshead.
With touches continuing to work closer and closer to the end line and Cannon in particular showing more ability cutting into the 18 and take on defenders alone, Dallas' biggest threats are quickly becoming the overlapping defenders. Not to mention the actual defensive ability each possesses.
Couple that with the fewer, but timely touches Michael Barrios and Dominique Badji, in a new role, had out wide, the combinations proved lethal time and time again. The wingers provided crucial cover for the overlap too, leading the team with 15 and 14 duels, respectively.
It's no coincidence that the club's most passes into the final third of the season came with the growth in the deep attack. If FCD can keep it up, it'll complete the well-rounded game Gonzalez has been working to build over the season's opening month.