FRISCO, Tex. — After being parked on the bench for four games, Mauro Diaz set a team record for most assists in a game, and came one shy of tying the MLS record as he provided assists for all three FC Dallas goals in their 3-2 win over the LA Galaxy.
FC Dallas' "unicorn" was beginning to be thought of as just a memory, as Diaz struggled to regain the form that led FC Dallas to a Supporters' Shield and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup double in 2016 before suffering an Achilles tendon rupture.
The Argentine playmaker spent four games on the bench as head coach Oscar Pareja switched to a 4-4-2 in hopes of boosting an inefficient attack that had only benefited from one assist by the Dallas No. 10, as Pareja explained to Buzz Carrick of 3rdDegree.net earlier this week.
"We are choosing to have some versatility with the lineup and you've got to carry the risks in that and see if for this particular game you want to give the opportunity to somebody else," said Pareja. "We have been using that mentality for the last month or so."
But an opportunity emerged for Diaz against the Galaxy and he took full advantage, setting up Maxi Urruti with his fourth strike of the year before a defense-splitting through ball and sublime lofted cross helped Roland Lamah score a brace, and most importantly help FCD land three points against a Western Conference rival.
"I was very happy," said Diaz. "Every player wants to be in the starting 11. Today, I got the chance to be in it. I was able to be in the picture and a part of the game. I am very happy with the three assists, but I’m happier with the three points."
While Diaz wasn't seeing the field, he had been impressing in practice, and the results spoke for themselves as Diaz attempted to open up the Galaxy backline with the pace of Urruti and his wingers.
"Mauro coming back, obviously he wants to start every game and he didn’t get the opportunity to start like he wants to," said FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta. "He’s been putting in the minutes and the hours on the training field and it definitely showed. I’m happy for Maxi and Roland to get on the score sheet. That’s big for the forwards to find that confidence in front of the goal, so hopefully this is the beginning and the goals keep flowing on in."
Pareja also threw some significant praise Diaz's way, mentioning the 27-year-old's status with FCD.
"Mauro has done a tremendous job understanding the initiatives and the purpose of our lineups in the past few games," said Pareja. "The respect and the professionalism that he has shown, being one of the best players in the league and one of the best on this team ever."