FRISCO – When entering a season as Supporters Shield holders, the expectations are high to defend your title. FC Dallas saw a record year last year as the team rolled on to the most points in the club’s regular season history.
The offensive and defensive production was there last year, and it has gotten even better this year. At the beginning of August in 19 league games, FC Dallas has scored 32 goals. At this point last season the total was 35.
But the backline has especially stepped up. FC Dallas has allowed just 19 league goals in 19 matches. Last year, that number was at 31 goals against in 23 matches. That is nearly cutting the goal against total in half in a season where centerback Matt Hedges spent extended time with the United States Men’s National Team, and when centerback Walker Zimmerman was out for about five weeks with a knee injury.
The point total has gone down, however. FC Dallas has 34 points this season when at the end of July last year the team had 44 points. It is partially because the squad has played less games, but also because Dallas is drawing more matches.
With a 9-3-7 record, FC Dallas has three more draws than at this point last season, and three less losses. While points have dropped off just a bit, it is the position in the standings that truly matters, and FC Dallas is doing just fine.
On August 1, 2016, Dallas was coming off of a 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps and leading the league in points. This season – Dallas is coming off a result they would wish to forget with the Whitecaps – a 4-0 loss, but still sit second in the Western Conference, and well within striking distance of the Supporters Shield.
Both goalkeepers, Jesse Gonzalez and Chris Seitz, are having better years in net from last year so far. Gonzalez sports a 0.93 goals against average – almost a full point down from this point last season. Seitz has played four matches, and allowed five goals for a 3-1-0 record.
So where are the goals coming from? Maxi Urruti is having a career season, with 11 goals and five assists to lead the team in goals and shots. Urruti has taken 61 shots this season, by far and away the team lead.
Urruti has scored more than 10 goals in a season just once in his MLS career. Roland Lamah has settled into MLS, and scored eight goals for his efforts. FC Dallas has 11 different goal scorers at this point compared to 12 different goal scorers last season. Three goals came off of penalties last season at this point last year, while this season Dallas has been awarded a lone penalty kick.
The emergence of Kellyn Acosta as a goal-scoring threat from midfield is a welcome sight, as he has three goals this season compared to one at this point last year. But while the goals are nice, FC Dallas had to play the majority of the beginning of the season without playmaker Mauro Diaz.
But Michael Barrios saw that as no big deal. Diaz had 9 assists at this point last season, so where did that production come from this season? Well it is coming from Barrios, who leads MLS with 10 assists.
It has been a total team effort from FC Dallas to get to this point in the season. The backline has had plenty of new faces, and different groups, but have been the strongest aspect of the team so far.
The offense has had those who needed to step up do just that. Urruti has been a needed spark at forward, Lamah has scored his share of goals and Barrios has picked up the slack when Diaz was not available. Now that FC Dallas is back to full strength, the push for the Supporters Shield and final part of the season will be something to watch.