With it being opening day, all 20 MLS clubs took to the field for regular season action. At 2 P.M. (CST) in North Texas, FC Dallas took on the Philidelphia Union in a home opener for the Frisco side.
Both clubs made improvements to their sides over the offseason, but it was FC Dallas who made the biggest moves as four of their new recruits made appearances for the club (3 starters, one of the bench).
In the end, FC Dallas showed a dominant display as they defeated the Philidelphia Union 2-0. An amazing performace by the young Dallas side proved to much for the scrambled Union.
A first half goal by Designated Player Fabian Castillo had Dallas out on front early. After the goal it was clear Dallas had most of the possession as Philidelphia closed in and remained back, hoping to counter.
The second half started off boring but soon picked up momentum as new-man Urriti capitalized on his chance and scored his first goal for his new club.
With FC Dallas gaining a win in their first match of the season against the Union, here are 5 things we learned from the North Texas match.
1. Castillo Still Has It
The Colombian has shown no signs of slowing down. His blistering pace led to countless counter attack situations for the Dallas side. Castillo was able to add on to his goal tally with a 22nd-minute goal.
For the most part, Castillo’s touch and dribbling were on point as usual. He was able to take on the defense through the middle and exploit the flustered and cluttered Philidelphia defense and midfield.
However, Castillo went down in the 88th minute with an injury. No information has been released, but the young All-Star had to be stretchered off. FC Dallas fans should hope for a quick and speedy recovery.
2. Union Are Lost Up Front
With the new addition Ilsinho from Shakhtar Donetsk, Philidelphia fans should have expected a better offensive display by their club. However, this wasn’t the case.
Sapong, Pontius, and Ilsinho all looked out of sync. Ilsinho looked lazy in the middle, never getting back and staying immobile in the center field. Sapong would attempt a flick every time he touched the ball and Pontius looked non-existent.
The Union need to get their offense under control. The defense did the best they could, but when there is no offense flowing, there isn’t much the defense can do to score.
Union fans should hope this changes. If everything stays the same, the Union will be looking at another terrible season, much like in 2015.
3. FC Dallas' Young Midfield Prevails
FC Dallas played a 4-2-1-3 formation today. The two defensive midfielders were USMNT member Kelyn Acosta and Ecuadorian International Gruezo. At the attacking midfield role was the 2015 MVP runner-up, Mauro Diaz. And on the wings, were All-Star Fabian Castillo and Michael Barrios.
The young midfield looked in sync. They all played with an understanding of each other, allowing one another to take chances down the field, as the others would stay back to cover. The three in the middle played with constant communication and looked to contain their formation at all times.
Castillo and Barrios both ruled the flanks as through balls over the defense led to constant attacks for the Dallas side.
FC Dallas should be excited to watch this young midfield take shape over the 2016 MLS season.
4. The New Men Impressed In Dallas
FC Dallas had four new players take the field today. Three of them had the chance to start. The starters were Maximiliano Urruti, Carlos Gruezo, and Maynor Figueroa. Long-term MLS veteran, Mauro Rosales, eventually came off the bench in the late stages of the game.
Urruti played extremely well up top with the young midfield. The ex-Portland Timbers striker had a couple chances in the first, but nothing could go in for him. Eventually in the 79th minute, Urruti was able to finish a chance, giving him his first goal in his first game for the Dallas club.
Carlos Gruezo joined FC Dallas during the window after leaving Stuttgart in Germany. The Ecuadorian International played a quiet game with no mistakes. The midfielder kept his shape and did what he was supposed to do. Solid passing and strong defensive tackles let the midfielder quietly shine in Dallas.
Maynor Figueroa joined FC Dallas from the Colorado Rapids this winter. The Ex-Hull City defender started as a left back for the Hoops. A strong defensive showing helps create great depth for FC Dallas. Maynor was able to get up during the attack while possessing the pace to get back on defense in time.
Rosales came on too late to make a real impression. Hopefully, we will see a bigger role for the MLS veteran later in the season.
5. Union's Rosenberry Impressed
Philidelphia Union’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft had a very impressive match at the Right Back position. The young Georgetown grad seemed composed and handled the defensive responsibility well.
Rosenberry was given a monstrous task by being assigned to defend the FC Dallas’ All-Star Fabian Castillo. For the most part, the Harrisburg native contained the fast paced Colombian. Castillo’s goal came by a run through the center backs, which is hard to blame Rosenberry for. Few instances revealed that Rosenberry was a rookie. His passes were crisp and his vision led to great awareness.
The Rookie should continue to get game time in Philidelphia, but his development may be interrupted by the rest of his team if they can’t put in solid performances.