FC Dallas have been improving in form in recent weeks, but one of the architects of their 5-2 US Open Cup quarterfinal win over the Carolina RailHawks on Wednesday made a welcome addition to the lineup.
Winger Fabian Castillo, who was suspended four league games after making contact with a match official following Dallas' June 11 match against the Portland Timbers, got his first action for the club in July and came through with a fantastic performance, scoring one goal after an outstanding run through the NASL side's defense in the first half, and setting up the visitors' final two goals.
Though Castillo's return helped spark the side to victory, standout performances from Blas Perez, who had a hat trick on the night, and rookie Tesho Akindele, helped Dallas to simply overpower the RailHawks over 90 minutes.
But Castillo, who scored in his last two league games before the suspension, showed why he's become a fixture in FC Dallas' lineup.
“Fabian has been fantastic,” said defender Matt Hedges following the game. “He has been getting better and better every game over the past few months. He is so dangerous.”
Carolina actually scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute, but after it became apparent that the RailHawks' defense could not handle the Dallas speed on the wings as Castillo, Je-Vaughn Watson and Akindele made a concerted effort to attack the corners. It resulted in a hat trick for Perez, as well as goals for Castillo and Mauro Diaz, who came off the bench in the match.
“We were very aggressive up front and we created a lot of chances,” said head coach Oscar Pareja.
“Carolina made things very difficult. It was a very hard game to play,” Pareja said. “Our boys did an excellent job on controlling the tempo of the game.”
Although Carolina were awarded and converted a penalty kick to tie the match at 2-2 late in the first half, Castillo’s goal was the back-breaker. The Colombian worked his way through the RailHawks’ defense and slotted the ball home from an angle in the 44th minute, giving Dallas a lead it would not relinquish.
Castillo then had the assists on the last two goals, to Diaz and Perez, respectively, as Dallas broke the RailHawks on the counter late as the hosts pressed forward to get back into the match.
Despite his showing, Castillo will sit out Dallas' next two league games to complete his ban, against the New England Revolution on July 19 and the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 27. Dallas' next Open Cup game, a semifinal clash against the Philadelphia Union, will be at home on August 12.