FRISCO, Texas – The four on the calendar wasn’t the only relevant four on Independence Day for FC Dallas.
From whistle to whistle, FC Dallas were firing on all cylinders and pounced on Orlando City's mistakes to run away with a 4-0 statement win on the same day that Colorado drew Portland, allowing FCD to take over at the top of the Supporters’ Shield race.
“It was a very complete performance. The effort for 90-plus minutes was incredible,” FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. “[The players] had respect for the opponent all the time and created a lot of situations to score. That was the highlight of the game.”
A lot of situations is an understatement. FC Dallas registered 15 shots inside the Orlando City penalty area compared to zero by the visitors. Dallas also totaled 19 shots on the evening compared to only three for Orlando, putting 10 of them on target compared to Orlando, who had none.
And you know things are clicking when your two center backs find the back of the net. Walker Zimmerman’s winning strike in the 11th minute was his second goal of the season, and Matt Hedges’ header in the 61st minute was his first tally in 32 games. Hedges' last goal came in May 2015.
“It was something we had drawn up this week based off how they mark," said Zimmerman, who took his open shot on an impressive half-volley. "Atiba [Harris] set a great pick and got me free, and Mauro [Diaz] put a great ball in there. I was just fortunate enough to finish it.
“You see Hedges come in there in the second half on the same play, switched it up and got his header. It was a great job by the coaches and the scouting this week to draw something like that up.”
When asked about his center back tandem, Pareja acknowledged how strong of a defensive performance they logged. But he did not want to give them too much praise, as there are loftier goals to accomplish than just being one of the top central defender duos in MLS.
“They’re growing into the system and playing many games together already,” Pareja said. “The communication and what we want from them is growing. It was a good game that will give them good confidence. They know it’s a long way to go for the team and all of us, but tonight was very solid.”
The win also set a franchise mark for consecutive home matches without a loss, a streak that now sits at 15 games and dates back to August 15, 2015. Pareja and Zimmerman both paid homage to the fans at Toyota Stadium for the feat, especially with the Independence Day match representing a sellout.
“The last two games in MLS have been very good for us – the two best games we’ve had in a while,” Hedges said. “That’s a good sign for us.
“It’s nice [being at the top of the standings], but at the end of the day it matters who’s at the top at the end. It’s good to be at the top and know where you stand in the middle [of the season], but you want to be there at the end.”