After a promising cameo off the bench in Minnesota on Wednesday, Andres Ricaurte marked his first MLS start by giving FC Dallas supporters a tantalizing glimpse at a potential new playmaking star at Toyota Stadium on Saturday night.
The Colombian's goal that broke the deadlock on way to a 2-1 Dallas win over their Texas rivals the Houston Dynamo will rightly grab the headlines. It was a volley of stunning technique that saw the ball arrow into the net from 30 yards and a strike that will surely feature among the goals of the season come the end of 2020.
Is there any better way to introduce yourself than this?— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) September 13, 2020
Ricaurte, take a bow sir. 🎩🎩🎩 pic.twitter.com/lar8skvP19
"That goal was a special goal, obviously, that's not something that a coach can influence. That's just something that a coach can enjoy was Andres’ strike," Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez said in his post-match press conference.
But as much as the goal, it was Ricaurte's all-round play and his ability to find teammates and split the opposition in the final third that caught the eye. As Ricaurte himself said afterward, he enjoys assisting more than scoring goals.
No one had more passes in the Dallas team than Ricaurte and no one received more of those passes than striker Franco Jara. After a stuttering start to life in Dallas following his summer move from Liga MX side Pachuca, the physically imposing striker appeared to relish having a player of Ricaurte's quality in such close proximity and capped his performance with the game-winner in the second half.
But with performances such as this one, Dallas know it won't be long before opponents start to earmark Ricaurte for special attention.
"Now he's gonna be scouted and studied by other teams," Gonzalez said. "I'm sure he's gonna get more pressure, he's gonna get closed down so we have to help him. We have to protect him, we have to get options around him for combinations but I think he's also got a great mentality, he's gonna grow and find other ways to get unmarked. If he's getting closed down because he's too low, he's gonna start finding spaces in behind. He's an intelligent player. He's gonna keep adapting."
The recent signing from Independiente Medellin also impressed with his work rate off the ball, making a team-high 10 recoveries, something that Gonzalez said can also have a big impact on the team.
"He's an honest player," said the Dallas coach. "He's intelligent, not just creative and with an amazing vision that can score outside the box as you saw, but he's responsible. He knows how to fill spaces defensively, he reads his teammates and, and he puts an effort. And so he's a great fit for us, he's a great human being, he's a great talent but he complements it with the game intelligence as well in reading what he needs to do defensively. So that's going to help us."
For Dallas, there were other bright spots beyond Ricaurte and Jara on a night when they inflicted their Texas rivals' first defeat since July 18.
After the transfer of Reggie Cannon to Boavista this week, there was another impressive performance from the latest product off the Dallas assembly line, 19-year-old right back Bryan Reynolds. And what has been a tumultuous season for Dallas now looks to be heading firmly in the right direction.