US Open Cup: "Difference maker" Michel's set pieces fuel FC Dallas' high-scoring attack

Michel, FC Dallas

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USA TODAY Sports

FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas left back/midfielder Michel keeps serving beautiful set pieces, and his teammates keep knocking them home.

After two of the Brazilian's deliveries led to Kenny Cooper goals in FCD's 3-0 US Open Cup victory over the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, three of the team’s five goals in Open Cup play and 11 of 27 overall on the season have come off of a free kick or corner kick delivered by Michel.

The former Atlético Paraneanse and Aris FC man says that this is the best team he’s ever played on when it comes to scoring from restarts.

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“We have a bunch of players that are tall and are good players when they go up in the air like [Cooper], George [John], Eric [Hassli] and Andrew Jacobson,” he told reporters through an interpreter after the win over Houston.

“We need to continue to take advantage of that skill that we have created as a team,” he added, “continue to [pass] the ball well, which is what creates the opportunities to have set pieces when you move the ball around and continue to capitalize on the opportunities we have to score.”

FC Dallas have forged a clear identity at this point in the season, one important element of which is a team that is extremely dangerous any time they can bring everyone up into the opponent’s 18-yard box with Michel standing over a free kick. Head coach Schellas Hyndman knows what he has now in the versatile Brazilian, calling him one of the top two or three free-kick specialists in the league.

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But coming into the season, he says that they never anticipated the level of production that has put Michel onto the short list of team MVP candidates.

“We did not expect this at all,” said Hyndman. “We were looking at a left fullback that I had seen a few times and then he’s playing out of position [at central midfield]. Whether he’s a left back, whether he’s a center back, whether he’s a center midfielder … we just have to keep finding ways to keep him on the field so he can take those free kicks and corner kicks.

"This may be the difference-maker of winning games.”