Once is a data-point. Twice is something to watch for. Three times is the beginning of a real trend.
And Oscar Pareja has been playing some really good chess this season – with his lineups, his formations and his substitutions. In the San Jose match, the team began in a somewhat surprising 4-4-2 formation that Papi has often referred to as a 4-2-4. His club was putting pressure on San Jose, but his substitutions of Barrios, Michel and Zimmerman raised that level exponentially. Granted, there was some luck involved in the goal that ended up being the winner, but the fact that Dallas found the winner should not have been a surprise considering the way the home side poured pressure upon pressure as the game wore on.
Then in the game against a strong Sporting Kansas City side, Pareja went back to the 4-2-3-1 for most of the game, and it was moderately effective. But then Pareja brought off Mauro Diaz for Ryan Hollingshead. Soon thereafter Akindele was removed for Barrios. By the end of the game, it was 3-1 Dallas.
And today, Dallas comes into a physical match with the Union. After a competitive game for much of the first half, Philadelphia’s Zach Pfeffer earned a red card with an elbow to the face of Mauro Diaz late in the first half and the question was how would the teams respond. Red cards do not always mean an automatic win for the side up a player – especially if that team is on the road. Often the team up a man comes out patient – too patient – to where the other team steals a goal and the team up a player has lost the momentum, something Dallas did to Real Salt Lake late last year.
So what does Dallas do? Pareja makes the shift to the 4-4-2/4-2-4 at the half, pulling Michel – who was on a yellow card already – for Ryan Hollingshead. Before the 60th minute, both Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead score to give Dallas a lead they would not relinquish. After a little more time, Dallas shifted back to the 4-2-3-1 with the insertion of Bekker for Perez in the 79th minute to shut the game down and the match finished 2-0.
Those are a lot of moves that all seem to be coming up Aces for one coach. If nothing else, it is a very strong start to the season for FC Dallas and the Colombian taskmaster.