It was a proverbial monkey lifted off the back for Dallas. Oscar Pareja and his makeshift backline, filled with the likes of homegrown Moises Hernandez, veteran Zach Loyd, a recovering Walker Zimmerman, and evergreen Matt Hedges, did a number on high-flying Real Salt Lake last week, walking out with a point from fortress Rio Tinto.
“It has been one of our best performances as a team. The discipline, character, and the fight the boys showed today just made us feel like we won more than one point,” said FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja. “We want credibility for ourselves after the struggle we had during the week.”
Grit and determination were key colloquialisms and the usual proverbs dropped during post game interviews, but the point was well deserved for FCD. In fact, it was only their second point in seven games. After playing three games in seven days, two of which were away to the Galaxy and the aforementioned Salt Lake, the point from Utah put a positive cap on the road trip.
Tonight’s guests, San Jose, have been as good as they have been poor. Form has been intangible and problematic for the Quakes all season, but in recent weeks they can at least claim to have bagged seven points in five games, turning the tide on a winless five initial matches of the 2014 campaign.
Going forward, FC Dallas has some reasons to hope that favor will shine upon them tonight. For one, the confidence gained in the RSL match has galvanized the team. Furthermore the absences of Chris Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez, both on national team duty for Brazil, will leave gaps up top and in the back for the visitors. Wondo is responsible for nearly half of San Jose’s goal production. And even further: San Jose has yet to win on the road this season, despite three attempts. In fact, they were blanked twice despite their best efforts.
FCD should present a similar front that faced RSL just a week ago. Given the performance of the back line few changes should be seen, and rightfully so. Given the state of George John’s injury, which is opaque to all outsiders and known best by maybe only John himself, someone needs to be an equal foil to Matt Hedges to give some ballast to the FCD starting eleven.
As for the midfield and attack, the team has much to be positive about with performances week ago from Adam Moffat and Victor Ulloa. Moffat’s exploits were much needed as he filled a sudden void left by Andrew Jacobson’s injury early on. Furthermore, Tesho Akindele’s workrate seemed nearly limitless. Add in the recovery and influence of Andres Escobar, who made a second half appearance at RSL, and Dallas has every reason to be wide-eyed and hopeful about their chances.
Questions that still linger regard Blas Perez and the capacity in which he will be used. He has looked tired at times, even by his own admittance, and a bit worn out. Tesho Akindele has provided enough constant work to fill some of the void, even pitching in a goal, but cannot completely cover. Even David Texeira’s lack of adaptation to the league and FCD’s style of play has hung further questions on the forward situation.
Still, the positives are many and auspices favorable heading into a home match that is certainly winnable for Oscar Pareja. Despite the skid, FCD is still fourth in the West. A win could send them a position up and to a .500 record to date. Tonight will be as key as next weekend, as FCD will have two consecutive home matches before heading away to Portland, who have recently regained what propelled them to winning the West in 2013.