With his team's winless streak at 10 games, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman made changes to his starting lineup and shifted his formation for Saturday's match at Portland. But it wasn't enough to keep the spell from reaching 11 in a 2-1 loss to the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field.
Still, FCD found a bright spot Saturday night during a three-month span of frustration, and that may hold some hope that the season can be saved: 22-year-old Mauro Díaz.
The Argentine midfielder made his first start for Dallas and rewarded Hyndman's faith by scoring his first goal, finishing off a beautiful piece of team passing in the 28th minute that, for a time, stunned the fans at JELD-WEN Field and equalized the match just two minutes after Portland opened the scoring.
Díaz consistently was a creative force and showed on his goal why Dallas so actively pursued him with a very intelligent run and composed finish.
“I thought the offense was playing quite well,” Hyndman told reporters after the match. “I think it was Díaz settling things down and making good penetrating passes ... the coordination and the feel of what is going on the pitch at that moment really showed us good soccer.”
Díaz’s equalizer shifted momentum temporarily toward the visitors' side of the field, but Portland took it right back in short order with what proved to be the eventual game winner by Darlington Nagbe only five minutes later. FC Dallas pushed hard in the second half for another equalizer, including going with a three-man backline for the last frantic seven minutes plus stoppage.
Although the winless streak goes on, the players continue to remain positive. Forward Kenny Cooper, who came on as a second-half substitute for defender Kellyn Acosta, refused to be down after the disappointing loss and also preferred to look at Díaz's contributions as bright spot.
“We scored a great goal by a young player who continues to improve himself,” said the onetime Portland Timber. “Of course, the score line isn’t one we wanted, but we will look back at the tape and find the positives to take from tonight.”