FRISCO, Texas – When FC Dallas opted not to bring back former MLS MVP David Ferreira this past winer, Mauro Díaz became the unquestioned man in the middle. On Saturday night, the Young Designated Player showed why the team was ready to hand him the creative reins.
The Argentine was a force against Montreal, creating space, holding possession, slipping teammates into open spots and controlling the flow of Dallas’ potent attack in a 3-2 season-opening victory. He also earned a penalty kick to set up one goal by Blas Pérez and then scored one of his own with a Goal of the Week-worthy free kick from 19 yards out just after halftime.
“I knew that the wall was too close to the 'keeper and if I was able to put it over the wall, it was going to be really hard for the ‘keeper to react to that one so close,” Díaz explained postgame to reporters through an interpreter. "Luckily, I hit it right and the ball went inside.”
Two days shy of his 23rd birthday, the Young DP's performance was the key to victory in Oscar Pareja’s first match as head coach of the team.
Pareja kept his praise subdued, saying he felt Díaz showed what he was capable of and that he’s ”very glad to have him on the team.” FCD captain Andrew Jacobson, however, was much more effusive.
“He was fantastic the whole game," Jacobson told reporters, "very active, always wants the ball. He’s everything you look for in a No. 10.”