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FC Dallas continuing to gel as unbeaten run continues

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FC Dallas seems to have gone under the radar in the Major League Soccer’s Western Conference during the early parts of this new season. This despite being the lone remaining unbeaten team in the West.

With the arrival of LAFC, Zlatan Ibrahmovic to the Galaxy, and the fast start by Sporting Kansas City, Dallas hasn’t caught the eye like other teams may have. Regardless of how many viewers they’ve received, Oscar Pareja’s squad is playing some quality soccer through its first six matches.

FC Dallas extended its unbeaten run to six matches, following a 2-0 home victory over the struggling Philadelphia Union on Saturday night. It was their second consecutive victory and clean sheet, and their first two-match winning run since July 2017.

“It was a great game for us,” Pareja said. “Especially with a different look, we knew we could get after Philadelphia on the counter and use the space they gave us. In the first half we had chances that could’ve led to two or three goals.”

Dallas really had to work for the three points on Saturday, in a rainy atmosphere at home. The hosts outshot their opponents 10-2, with Blake making eight saves for the Union. Jimmy Maurer was fairly quiet for FCD, but made a huge pair of saves before the hour mark to keep the score deadlocked at 0-0.

“In the second half, we were able to add some subs off the bench to give us different options,” Pareja said. “The guys gave it all for the team tonight, and I’m content with the performance but overall happy because I see a group of guys gelling together and that makes us happy.”

FC Dallas stuck with a 4-4-2 formation on Saturday for the second straight match, after tinkering with a 4-2-3-1 earlier in April against Colorado. It gave Dallas another forward up top to help them get after the young Union backline, had been their strength in the early parts of the season.

“It was a new system but featured the same players,” Dallas winger Roland Lamah said. “We worked on it all week, and we knew Philadelphia had a lot of speed on the wings so it was a good three points.”

Lamah was moved up higher offensively to help Cristian Colman in the attack. The 30-year-old Lamah registered an assist on Urruti’s insurance goal, which now gives him three assists on the season more than all of 2017.

“It was a good run by Maxi, who normally runs a lot for the team,” Lamah said. “I saw him running and I gave him a good pass and he scored easily.”

Defensively, Dallas allowed the third-fewest goals in the Western Conference last season and that looks to have translated over to 2018, even though Pareja revamped the defense. Matt Hedges is the lone holdover from 2017 among starters, with Reggie Cannon, Reto Ziegler and Anton Nedyalkov forming a steady defensive unit. Their three goals allowed through six matches is fewest in Major League Soccer so far.

“It’s a great feeling to get three points at home, but also to get the shutout as well,” Cannon said. “As defenders we trusted out forwards and we all did our jobs for the good of the team tonight.”

FC Dallas (3-0-3) is currently in third place in the West but faces a tough upcoming road trip. A visit to NYCFC awaits on April 29th, before going cross country for a showdown with LAFC on May 5th.

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