By Will Martin
It’s a long way to October when it comes to soccer. The many peaks and valleys a team shall climb and falter in victory and defeat can test the might of many a player and coach.
Last year at this time you might recall a fatigue factor that was affecting the overall psyche of the FCD under Schellas Hyndman.
The FC Dallas team of 2014 (11-7-6 39 points 3rd) plays more like a brand of angry warriors. That which does not kill them shall make them stronger.
The mightiest warrior of the Red For 90 brigade currently is led by a rookie. And a red hot one at that!
Prior to Saturday night’s match at San Jose (6-9-6 24 points) there had been only six hat tricks in MLS history by a rookie.
Add Tesho to that list! He made it seven in a 5-0 blanking of the Earthquakes. In making this distinction he was also awarded the Major League Soccer Player Of The Week.
Tesho Akindele had played in 16 games this rookie year. 13 as a starter. He has found the net seven times. While Tesho went hattie it was Fabian Castillo who also contributed with two goals in giving the Quakes their worst loss in 519 games.
Fabian Castillo has now gone ten straight games with a goal and an assist playing around a suspension. In his last six games five goals have been scored. Akindele has knocked in six goals in that same juncture. All told there are four FC Dallas players with at least six goals. A marked improvement over the results put forth in 2013.
Fabian Castillo would get the scoring started in minute #30 unassisted after a Victor Bernardez deflection to give FC Dallas a lead they would not relinquish. 13 minutes later Castillo would assist Akindele in firing a left footed pass that bounced off the post and went in for a 2-0 lead.
The lead improved to 3-0 in the 58th minute when Fabian Castillo would fight off a slew of defenders and fire a shot at goalie Jon Busch who was unable to secure the rebound. Tesho got his second goal of the night for a 4-0 lead.
In the 86th minute Akindele would complete the hat trick and complete a 5-0 FC Dallas victory over the Earthquakes. In essence they erased the memory of two losses Oscar Pareja suffered back in May.
FC Dallas now enjoying a wonderful streak of success. 6-0-3 in their last nine games. With a win on August 22 against Real Salt Lake we might be saying, ‘1st Place FC Dallas!’ Something we haven’t seen in quite some time.
Oscar Pareja has a theory.
“This group has shown a lot of character. I don’t know if people realize how much adversity this group has gone through this year – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. They stand up and keep pushing, and today was a statement where they proved that they’re strong kids.”
Now that Fabian Castillo is back what has been his incentive? What’s changed?
“He (Castillo) has a better understanding of what his responsibilities are without the ball. When you have a player that becomes a team player, success will follow. He has grown immensely at being a team player. Now he’s sacrificing, working harder and making the right tactical movements. Everything is coming together for him.”
Tesho Akindele was quick to point out the streak post-match.
“The streak has taken dedication from everyone on both sides of the ball. We’ve been scoring a lot of goals, but we’ve also been allowing fewer goals than we were in the beginning of the season. I think offensively and defensively, we’re starting to click.”
Back on August 9 the Colorado Rapids were in town for a soccer visit. FC Dallas wasted no time to get on the board twice in the first 11 minutes en route to a 3-1 victory over Oscar Pareja’s old team in the 100 degree heat.
Matt Hedges would control a rebound after an ill-advised cross from Michel in the 9th minute for the early lead. Michel would then crank out a bender two minutes later for a 2-0 lead. 45 minutes later Michel would have a second assist when Fabian Castillo gave the FCD a 3-1 lead.
It was this same Rapid team who facilitated what has now become a nine game streak of success with points for FC Dallas.
In between these matches-having already discussed this in a previous post-there was the heartbreak of losing a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Semi Finals match to the Philadelphia Union via penalty kicks (4-3) after 120 minutes of a 1-1 stalemate.
I was more taken aback at the level of disappointment Coach Pareja had for his players after that Union loss.
“It was beautiful,” Pareja said. “I saw those last ten minutes and the rest of the extra time with an atmosphere here in the park that I hadn’t seen before so that was awesome. The stadium wasn’t full but I was proud of the fans.”
What Oscar Pareja said next was headline grabbing. It did not go unnoticed.
“This is the group that I want to coach and the group that I dreamed to coach one day,” said Pareja. “Tonight I was very pleased and the game gave me the opportunity to coach this group of players and my dream came true. This is the heart that I want to see in the organization in games. I love it.”
Now a game with first place on the line will happen on August 22 at Toyota Stadium with Real Salt Lake. A win and you could see a three way tie for first place. Remember when one month ago the Seattle Sounders looked to be running away with the Western Conference.
FC Dallas might be peaking at the right time. The 5-0 win at San Jose their fourth shutout of the 2014 season but again let’s remember… It’s a long way to October!
8/22 vs Real Salt Lake 8:00 p.m.