FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas had high hopes for young Designated Player Mauro Diaz when they signed him last summer. But it seems that in the span of just 13 MLS appearances, the 23-year-old has become Dallas' central figure, as his performance in a 3-1 win over Chivas USA Saturday night demonstrated.
Diaz set up two goals for the hosts, although he was only credited for one assist on the night. On the first, the Argentine hit a free kick that Hendry Thomas flicked down in the box into Fabian Castillo's path, where the Colombian buried the chance to open the scoring in the 71st minute.
Then, seven minutes later, Diaz received the ball in Dallas' half, looked up and then sent an immaculate early ball on the ground halfway across the field to Je-Vaughn Watson. Watson collected the ball and then made one of the best goalkeepers in MLS look silly as he easily dribbled around Dan Kennedy and slotted home from the very difficult angle.
Following the match, the players who finished Diaz's terrific service credited the DP for his passing ability.
Castillo, who repeatedly made the Goats’ backline look inept in the first half, called Diaz the most dangerous player on the FCD squad and gave his vantage point of Watson's goal.
“You can't give space to Mauro because it’s a very dangerous place to give him that kind of space…that pass was a great pass,” he said. “The fullback tried to get the ball. You’ve got to give credit to Je- Vaughn to because he was there and he did it.”
Watson also marvelled at Diaz's pinpoint pass on the game's second goal.
“It was a perfect ball because I was running from the other end of the field,” Watson said. “It’s just me making a hard run and getting through because I know I’m faster than the guy, and it was a perfect ball. He couldn’t have done [anything], it was just for me to get on the end of it.”
With performances like that, Diaz looks like he is ready to fully assume the mantle of FC Dallas' playmaker, following the departure of former league MVP David Ferreira.
FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said in no uncertain terms after the match that this team is now Diaz’s.
“Mauro is the first one that I look at and he knows that and he’s carrying the pressure very well," he said. "Fantastic ball to Watson and a couple more to Castillo. The penetration that Mauro is giving us is outstanding.
“Mauro is carrying the team now...he’s doing very well."