So going into the match, we thought it would be a tough game where Seattle would be fighting and scrapping to get a tie or steal a win, but that they would sit back and make Dallas earn their chances. Considering that they were without Dempsey, Martins, Pappa and Alonso, that seemed the smart play from their point of view.
And the match started with Seattle playing a very passive line of confrontation, but it looked like a matter of time before Dallas would break the Sounders down.
And then, as the saying goes, Sports Happens. In the 17th minute, Acosta goes in for a rash challenge, cleats high and exposed, and is sent off. Dallas would play 70+ minutes down a man. That would change the shape of the game to be sure, but it was in many ways the exact opposite of the Dallas-Philly match from the weekend before.
Specifically, Seattle took almost 15 minutes to realize that Dallas did not change its formation – simply going with three at the back and maintaining its attack. And when they did finally try to get over the top, Ryan Hollingshead simply dropped back and shut the door. The half would finish at 0-0 and the question was what adjustments teams would make.
Turns out, none. Dallas did not need to and Seattle apparently did not want to. Once it was apparent that Texiera had done all he could, Pareja subbed on Walker Zimmerman in the 59th and Dallas played a 4-4-1 the rest of the way, with Fabian Castillo harassing – and almost scoring.
Sad fact of the game? No shots on goal. By either team. For Dallas, it was what it was. For Seattle, depleted lineup or not, that is just weak.
- Team shape despite being down a player. Dallas did not miss a beat. It was harder work, to be sure, but that team simply dug in and kept going. Very impressive.
- Once again, Pareja and his boys won the chess match again. Playing 72 minutes down a man and you don’t give up a shot on goal, let alone a goal, and you have to feel good about it. The only possible thing you might be able to critique – and this is splitting a very thin hair – is could Pareja have brought on Barrios sooner? Say once it was clear that Kovar was not the solution for Seattle? But again, that is getting very very very nit-picky.
- The defense has only allowed one goal in four matches. That is stout.
- The only real question of the game is another red card for Dallas. After ten last year and now two in the team’s last six, dating back to the friendly with DC United, it is a question that needs to be asked. It probably is not an alarm at this stage of the season, but that is not something you want to see.
The Big Takeaway
Nothing really changed about this team. It is the strongest in MLS, and by a decent bit. A mistake in a moment of hustle cost this team a win, but they still did the hard work to get a result. Add Perez and Hernandez back in, and they should be able to get the result next week as well. The only thing that Pareja probably wants to address is how to maintain the team’s aggression and hustle while eliminating – or at least minimizing – the ejections. But beyond that, you have a mostly complete, and very talented and balanced team, playing with chemistry and familiarity while most of MLS is still trying to figure out their best XI. At some point, a handful of MLS clubs will start to figure themselves out – Vancouver sure seems close – so the questions will be how much of a lead will Dallas have at that point, and can Dallas continue to raise its ceiling in response.