Dallas' Oscar Pareja hails Michael Barrios after star turn in Texas Derby

HOUSTON -- A difference maker.

That’s how FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja described Michael Barrios in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Texas Derby rivals Houston Dynamo.

The Colombian winger notched two goals — his first since July 4 — upping his team lead to eight. With fellow countryman Fabian Castillo now playing in Turkey, Dallas are more dependent on Barrios as the regular season ramps up towards the MLS Cup Playoffs. And Barrios has so far been up to the task.

“He has been crucial in our results. Not just in scoring, which is obviously the most important part with the forwards, but just being a team player,” said Pareja. 

Dallas, now with 48 points, did not claim El Capitan -- the trophy awarded each season to the Texas Derby club with the best head-to-head record -- for the first time since 2012, but picked up three badly needed points to continue their quest for the Supporters' Shield.

The proceedings did not start well for the team from north Texas as their rivals took an early lead, thanks to unlocking their right side early on.

“We didn’t find answers in the first 20-25 minutes and they deserved to win the [first] half,” said Pareja.

Barrios agreed. “They took advantage of being the home team and their goal gave them momentum. Thank God we were able to take the lead and get the victory.”

The second half was another story. Dallas had more verve and picked up the pace of their play.

Maynor Figueroa, who assisted on Barrios’ first goal, pointed to the heavy travel this week, which saw FCD play on Saturday in Salt Lake and then on Wednesday in Nicaragua in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“We have been 10 days on the road traveling. It has not been easy, it is not an excuse, but we were able to show a different attitude in the second half,” said Figueroa.

Pareja pointed to the response from his players coming out of the locker room as the difference.

“I could see from the whistle of the second half, I saw them picking up the tempo,” said Pareja. “I saw them with more intensity, adjusting to the game and finding answers by themselves.”

One of those answers, clearly, was Barrios.

“He adjusts to the variations we had, like tonight, and then changing him, sometimes one side or the other," Pareja said. "He adjusts well switching from the flank to up top.”