MLS Focus: FC Dallas has many reasons to be optimistic

It still might not yet be the team of two years ago when it won the Supporters' Shield and U.S. Open Cup, but FC Dallas has quietly rediscovered the form that eluded it for the second half of the 2017 season and into the 2018 Concacaf Champions League, where it exited in the first round to Panama's Tauro FC.

FC Dallas is playing with confidence and maturity and getting contributions out of different players.

On Wednesday, FC Dallas led 2-0 at the half and 3-0 after 66 minutes and survived two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals to win at LA Galaxy, 3-2.

The win followed a 1-0 victory at defending champion Toronto FC on Friday night and left FCD just two points off the lead held by Sporting KC in the Western Conference with a record of 6-1-5.

“I think we are finding different ways to face different teams," said FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja. "We’re changing the modules, we are having different strategies, we’re changing out well the players. Making everybody get more integrated into what we want. And that refreshes and that just reinvents us as well, gives us different ways to win."

Different players are making contributions each game.

In his first start of the season on the backline in place of injured Bulgarian Anton Nedyalkov (out 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone), Ryan Hollingshead scored the opening goal, assisted on the second and later in the game saved a goal when he blocked a shot on the line.

Defensive midfielder Carlos Gruezo scored his first goal in 68 MLS games to extend the lead to 3-0 in the second half.

Perhaps the most positive sign for FC Dallas has been the improved play of Mauro Diaz, who has five assists against the Galaxy in a pair of 3-2 wins in May and now has eight assists, matching his 2017 total after only 10 games.

Pareja broke the game down into two parts -- the first 80 minutes and the 10 minutes after Cristian Colman, the other Dallas goalscorer, was sent off.

"There were many positive things that I saw in the team," the Dallas coach said. "In the 80 minutes I saw personality, managing the tempo, keeping the ball much more, getting more players involved, and being effective in the box. Many things happened today that just make us very optimistic.”
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