FRISCO, Texas – It took three weeks, and 75 minutes into the club’s opening night match against San Jose, but Colombian winger Michael Barrios finally made his FC Dallas debut.
And in just under 20 minutes of game action, the young speedster made his presence felt.
“He’s really good,” said fellow winger Fabian Castillo through a translator after Saturday’s win over San Jose. “He created two scoring opportunities. He’s going to help the team a lot, and he helped the team tonight.”
The February signing of Barrios created intrigue because of how well he was projected to fit into head coach Oscar Pareja’s offensive philosophy. Yet with Dallas already getting production throughout the preseason from its other wing players, the addition seemed to be a luxury as much as it was a need.
That, along with the transition period typically required for international players coming to MLS, made it a mystery as far as how immediate Barrios’ impact would be. But after subbing into the San Jose match late, Barrios immediately caused a matchup nightmare down the flank.
“We brought Barrios here with the intention to create some width, to generate some 1-v-1s in that part of the field,” Pareja said. “We know how good he can be there taking people on.
“But the best quality that he has, and he proved it tonight, is that he can assist the other players coming in the middle. So he’s a team player.”
Barrios made two identical plays in limited action that could have resulted in goals – one that resulted in a failed header attempt, and another that forward Tesho Akindele put right into the chest of Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham.
The vision he has shown has caught the attention of last season’s MLS Rookie of the Year.
“You need somebody that can set up the plays as well as finish the end, and he’s looked really good,” Akindele said.
According to Pareja, the biggest hurdle for Barrios has been gelling with his teammates’ movements and adjusting to the team’s tactics and methodology.
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But as seen in Barrios’ minutes last weekend, the transition is happening quicker than many expected.
“I’m seeing that happen more and more now naturally,” Pareja said.
Whether or not a few effective minutes off the bench produces a spot in the starting lineup against Sporting Kansas City this weekend is still in question. But Barrios has shown his ability to make plays on the MLS level, and it seems to be just a matter of time before his comfort level grows with FCD.
“The more he gets into a rhythm and understands how to play with the rest of the team, it’s going to be a difference on the field for sure,” Castillo said.