By Rees Linn
Fabian Castillo tallied a goal and an assist to lead Dallas to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night. The Columbian teenager slipped through the Union backline before setting up Brek Shea in the 29th minute, and then nodded home a cross from Jackson in the 43rd. The win is Dallas’s fourth in five matches.
Still struggling to find their attacking identity after losing David Ferreira to a broken ankle, Dallas began the match in a 4-4-2 with Marvin Chavez playing alongside Castillo up front, but it was obvious in the early going that new formation’s kinks haven’t been completely worked out.
Chavez and Castillo consistently found themselves too isolated from the midfield during the first 25 minutes which created large gaps in the center for Okugo and Carroll to distribute for Philadelphia. Utilizing their time and space, the visitors were able to pick out Mwanga and Le Toux, and several runs out of the midfield from Justin Mapp could easily have put Dallas down a goal or two.
Shellas Hyndman spoke of his club’s early issues after the match: “We were getting mismatched in the midfield, but we were able to survive…Torres and Mapp were coming into the center, and they just out numbered us. We wanted our wing midfielders to come in with them a little bit.”
The adjustment paid off. The Dallas midfield was able to pressure higher up the pitch to disrupt Philadelphia’s possession, and the defense was able to maintain a higher line in order to limit passes into the feet of Mwanga and Le Toux. By forcing turnovers in midfield Dallas was able to jumpstart their attack, which to that point had been too disjointed to create any legitimate threat to the Union’s goal.
With the balance of the match shifted, Dallas’s attack, which hadn’t scored from the run-of-play in over 180 minutes, struck twice before halftime against a Philadelphia defense that had only conceded one goal from the run-of-play all season.
Hyndman will have to be pleased with the way his team has responded since losing Ferreira, but he’ll also know that they have a long way to go if they want to be thought of as the dangerous side that they were last season. Without the league MVP, the team lacks the composure and variation in their build up play needed to be dynamic enough to win the Supporters Shield. Castillo and Chavez attack with the pace necessary to occasionally unlock opposing defenses, but such direct play means Dallas frequently gives away possession when they should be able to maintain it.
Still, another win and three more points means that things are finally starting to look bright again after a slow start to the season for the defending Western Conference champs.