FC Dallas dare foes to pick their poison: defense unlocker Mauro Diaz or set-piece sniper Michel
FRISCO, Texas – Seven games into the 2014 season, and most Major League Soccer clubs have yet to find a way to stop FC Dallas. As the team prepares to travel to the nation’s capital for its game against D.C. United on Saturday (7 pm ET, MLS Live), the North Texas club has scored 17 goals, an average of 2.43 goals a game, best in the league.
To head coach Oscar Pareja, the reason is obvious.
“It’s not a secret because we have Michel and Mauro [Díaz], two guys that have been involved in the majority of our goals and that creates problems for the other teams,” he told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday's training.
Indeed, to date, 88 percent of FCD's goals scored following last weekend's win over Toronto have involved one of their trigger-men midfielders.
Michel, the Brazilian left back pressed into midfield service for FC Dallas in 2013, was a revelation last season with a series of dangerous free kicks, including an olimpico against Seattle. Díaz, the Argentine maestro, was given the keys to the offense to start this season, and he turned in a virtuoso performance, earning MLS Player of the Month honors in March.
Between the two, they give MLS opposition a difficult dilemma: try to challenge Dallas for possession, or focus on staying defensively organized. Nine of Dallas’ 17 goals have come from set pieces, five from the run of play and three from the penalty spot resulting from play in the field.
“If a team wants to play open with us, Mauro will pick them apart," team captain Matt Hedges told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday, "and if they want to play compact and then give up free kicks, then we can score like that. We’re so dangerous on both that it would be tough to pick.”
Either way, Dallas have yet to be held scoreless this season, and have been limited to just one goal on only one occasion. That will almost certainly be tested on Saturday at RFK Stadium against a remade D.C. backline that has come together over their last three games, allowing just a single goal. But FCD are confident in their weapons.
"Just whatever they give us is what we’re going to attack," right back Kellyn Acosta told MLSsoccer.com. "Every team has their weaknesses."