FC Dallas avoided what would have been a calamitous three game stretch by beating Toronto FC by a final score of 3-2 at home Saturday night.
After two embarrassing defeats at the hands of Portland and Colorado, Pareja and FC Dallas needed Saturday night’s win to restore some order in what is still a very talented and promising side. The first half on Saturday night showed glimpses of that.
Before an extended weather delay, FC Dallas came out of the gates with something to prove in the first 42 minutes.
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Every coach always tells their players to make their mark on the game right from the first whistle. Whether you want to make a physical statement or exert control over possession, it’s always best to start from the first minute and set your own pace rather than letting the other team dictate the game.
If Pareja’s game plan was to exploit the speed of Castillo down the flanks and get in behind the back line, it took less than a minute to execute it to perfection. With a high line and a tight press on Castillo, the little speedster darted in behind the Toronto defense and latched on to Moises Hernandez’s through ball for the game’s opening goal.
A similar type of play led to the second goal for Castillo just ten minutes later. Blas played a knifing ball in behind the back line that Castillo got to first. Cutting back inside the defender, Fabian scooped a curling effort into the far post for a spectacular goal and an early 2-0 lead.
For Castillo, the pace has always been there. No one has ever doubted his speed down the flanks or his ability to take on a guy one-on-one. We’re talking about the guy who led MLS last season in successful dribbles.
What has always been lacking in his play has been the killer instinct in the final third, the final touch to finish off an incredible run. Couple that with a lack of discretion on when to pass or shoot and you got a number of frustrating finishes (or lack thereof) from him last season.
The encouraging part about Saturday night’s win was to not just see Castillo on the score sheet, but also to see him finish with class the way he did. Between a delicate chip over the keeper in the first minute and a precise curler in the eleventh, there was no shortage of finesse from the FCD winger.
Had it not been for the weather delay, this game could have gotten out of hand early. Blas added a third after a horrible lapse of defensive duties within the Toronto back line. The two defenders thought the other would control the ball, only to see Blas hurry onto it and slot past the keeper to make it 3-0, leaving confusion and frustration behind him.
As the lights were going out, Barrios fired almost unforgivably wide as he was clear through on goal. Even without that fourth, FC Dallas looked to have a comfortable enough lead when the game restarted some three and a half hours later.
Apr 18, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; A pair of FC Dallas fans wait for play to resume after a three hour weather delay during the game between FC Dallas and Toronto FC at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas defeats Toronto FC 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apart from two moments of sheer brilliance from Sebastian Giovinco, who proved to be a handful all night long, FCD always looked to hang on to their comfortable cushion from the first half. The second half wasn’t nearly as pretty, but it wasn’t as bad as the first half was good.
The performance definitely gave FCD something to build upon. If nothing else, other teams might have learned exactly what happens when you play with a high line and a slow center back against Castillo; you get torched.