After getting shut out in their first three games of the MLS restart, FC Dallas has scored in every game since, including four games with multiple goals. Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids was one of their most convincing win yet, thanks in large part to a hat trick from Santiago Mosquera.
The Colombian winger was making just his second start of 2020, and according to Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez the goals were well-deserved for a player who has struggled to stay fit in the current campaign.
“What a night for Santi,” Gonzalez said after the game. “Obviously, he’s a player that’s had some injuries and things that have not allowed him to be on the field, but he’s always shown support for his teammates, he’s been working really well in training and he’s earned that opportunity. So tonight’s a product of him doing those small details.”
Mosquera's goals came as the Dallas attack has kicked into high gear, putting their August struggles firmly behind them. After missing out on the MLS Is Back Tournament and beginning their return to play by being shut out in three straight games, they have now scored in each of their last five games, including multi-goal outings in four of them. Still, FCD struggled to make their presence felt early on, until another one of their Colombian stars started to make his presence felt.
“I thought they were pretty imposing on us early,” said Gonzalez. “And then, as the game went on, I think Andres [Ricaurte] adapted and found some lower pockets to get on the ball. He would be man-marked higher up the field and then he was able to kind of drop lower and get on the ball and Tanner [Tessmann] would push higher or [Santiago Mosquera] would find an interior channel.”
The attacking combination of Mosquera, Franco Jara and Michael Barrios has been working well for the Dallas side, combining for six goals and two assists in the last four games. Through a translator, Mosquera said it’s important to have a player like Ricaurte underneath who can send in those final passes and create something inside the box.
“All the players are important, we all give each other a good competition,” he said. “We have a key player in the No. 10 role in Ricaurte. He is important for Barrios and me because he gives us that pass to set us up for success. Anyone who steps up can help in the attack for the team.”
Highlights: FC Dallas 4, Colorado Rapids 1
Ricaurte was signed by FC Dallas on loan from Independiente Medellin on August 14, 2020, and just recently began getting minutes. In three appearances (two from the start), the Colombian midfielder has one goal and one assist. And even though he didn't get a goal or assist in Dallas' romp on Wednesday night, his presence was clearly felt throughout the match as he involved himself in the team's buildup all over the field.
The playmaker's arrival into the FC Dallas lineup, and his performance in the last two-and-a-half games he's played have also coincided (perhaps not entirely coincidentally) with an upturn in individual stats among FCD's key attackers. Outside of Mosquera's hat trick, Jara's goal against Colorado was his fourth in three games, while Barrios picked up his third assist in as many outings.
Gonzalez explains that while there has been some consistency with Ricaurte and the top three, they have “other pieces that can be very dangerous and so we'll mix and match the way we see it.” But the key to continued success — and staying in contention for the playoffs — is that everybody needs to be ready.
“I need hard decisions to make and that's what this team has done. Even with injuries, it's hard to make decisions because guys are competing in training so yes, there's potential with those three up top, but you saw [Fafa Picault] come into the game and he was very effective and helped the team also do the job and he created himself in the short amount of time—it's good to have him back,” he said.
Dallas’ win against Colorado bumped them from 10th place to 4th place in the Western Conference standings. They will travel to Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, September 19 to take on a first-place Sporting Kansas City side (3:30 pm ET | Univision, TUDN, Twitter in the US; MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada).