Undefeated FC Dallas (5-0-3) routed Real Salt Lake (2-6-2) by a score of 3-0 at Rio Tinto on Saturday. Óscar Pareja’s team climbed to the top of the Western Conference with the result. The Portland Timbers also fell to the San Jose Earthquakes by the same 3-0 scoreline last night, making way for FC Dallas at the top.
FC Dallas Routs Real Salt Lake – Three Takeaways
This Was Not a Classic FC Dallas Performance
Despite the flattering scoreline, this was not a dominant FC Dallas performance. The early lead they took from the penalty spot was based on a dubious handball awarded by the referee. Real Salt Lake was the better team in the first period despite conceding the half’s only goal. They outshot and out-possessed FC Dallas, but spurned several opportunities to equalize. FC Dallas improved in the second half. The second and third goals they scored were opportunistic, and Jesse Gonzalez contributed a six save performance to secure a clean sheet. They say the mark of a great team is the ability to win even when you don’t play well. FC Dallas could hold this match up as an example of that.
No Javi Mo?
The main storyline heading into this match was the return of “El Maestro”, Javier Morales. It was his first match playing for FC Dallas against Real Salt Lake, where he spent ten seasons and won an MLS Cup. However, the only time he set foot on the pitch was in a pre-game ceremony to recognize the time he spent with the Utah club. Oscar Pareja opted not to start him, and didn’t use him as a substitute when it looked like the game was secured. His absence was a surprise to many. When asked about his decision not to play Morales, Óscar Pareja said it was in his plans to get him on the field.
“It was in our plans, not just because I wanted to make it an emotional moment for Javi, and bring him in the game, just because he’s going to help us. That’s the way I respect Javi. We all respect Javi. Javi gets on the field for a purpose. At the end I thought that he could come and help us to handle the ball better. It was a different instance in the game where we wanted him on the field, but we just chose to go with another player.” [FC Dallas]
No Stopping Maxi
Maxi Urruti’s red hot start to the 2017 season continued on Saturday. He scored the first goal of the game from the penalty spot, and netted another from open play in the 91st minute. The 26 year old Argentine striker now has six goals and one assist in seven appearances for the Texas club.
Pareja said the following of Urruti’s recent contributions: “It’s about the confidence that he’s getting…he’s creating a lot of chances. We’re working mentally to make him understand that he can score every game if he has that confidence…he’s a complete player.”[FC Dallas]
FC Dallas returns to Frisco to begin a two game home stand next weekend. They’ll face New York City FC and the San Jose Earthquakes on consecutive Saturdays. Pareja’s team will look to build on their Western Conference lead against two teams that currently sit fifth in their respective conferences.