Fabian Castillo highlights importance as FC Dallas see off Vancouver

The 2014 MLS playoffs got underway last night as FC Dallas played host to the Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Stadium, with Dallas progressing thanks to a 2-1 victory.

It was an intense game as expected, with 42 fouls over the course of the game resulting in seven yellow cards and one red, as Sebastian Fernandez was sent off after the final whistle for his actions towards referee Mark Geiger.

Tesho Akindele opened the scoring for the home side in the first-half, but Erik Hurtado’s deflected shot tied the game in the 63rd minute, before a controversial penalty was awarded to Dallas ten minutes from time.

Kendall Waston was adjudged to have deliberately handled the ball, despite his arms being by his side, and Michel confidently tucked away the resulting spot-kick, much to the disbelief of the Whitecaps players and fans alike.

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That was enough to seal the win for Dallas, but the performance of winger Fabian Castillo is what was the most encouraging thing to take forward.

The 22-year-old was excellent all night and he attempted an impressive seven dribbles – some feat considering the team only attempted nine in total, including Castillo’s seven.

Fabian Castillo showcases dribbling ability against Vancouver Whitecaps (via MLS on YouTube)

The exciting Colombian ended the regular season with ten goals and three assists, and if he can find his best form in the playoffs, Dallas has a real chance of going all the way to the MLS Cup.

He had more shots than any other teammate last night with three, and is certainly the main threat in this strong FC Dallas team.

They now prepare to host the Seattle Sounders in the first-leg of the Western Conference semi-final on Sunday night.

How important is Fabian Castillo to FC Dallas?

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Preview: Colorado Rapids vs FC Dallas

FC Dallas face Colorado Rapids on Saturday, with Dallas likely to seal their playoff place against a Rapids side in dismal form.

Failing to win in any of their last 12 games makes this look an easy enough task for Dallas, but they haven’t been overly impressive, without back-to-back wins since August.

The Rapids have conceded a massive 37 goals in the 12 game winless run, and have allowed Dallas to score six in the two previous meetings this season.

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Dallas have won the last two between the sides, both in high scoring games, something which we could expect to see this weekend given both sides weak defensive displays.

The Rapids are only three points off the foot of the table, which should give them some incentive to ensure that is not where they finish come the end of the season.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo: The pacey forward has the best goals to games ratio out of all Dallas’ forwards this season, bagging 11 in 25.

Key stat: The Rapids have conceded 60 goals this season; more than Dallas have scored.

Colorado’s last five: D/L/D/L/L

FC Dallas’ last five: W/L/W/L/W

Prediction: Colorado Rapids 1-4 FC Dallas

What we can takeaway from San Jose’s victory over FC Dallas

Saturday was the tale of two halves as all the action took place in the first half. San Jose held out after coming from behind to win 2-1 on Saturday night for their second win against Dallas in a month. Here are the things we learnt from game:

1. Both teams are susceptible from crosses and corners.

Both teams struggled in the first half to deal with crosses into the box, having great difficulty clearing the ball.

Both Blas Perez and Atiba Harris‘s goals were put into the box before ending up in the net. A weakness that MLS sides should be looking to exploit in the coming weeks.

2. FC Dallas couldn’t handle Yannick Djalo.

Djalo was San Jose’s main threat going forward, using his pace time after time to put the Earthquakes on the front foot.

Dallas were exposed on many occasions and failed to handle the on-loan Benfica forward, and eventually Adam Moffat collected his second yellow card after bringing Djalo down once again.

3. Fabian Castillo is a touch of class.

The young Colombian winger has the ability to make the ball look like it’s glued to his boots when he’s dribbling. At one point, he weaved through six men and then won a penalty.

Jon Busch saved the subsequent spot-kick but Castillo has a lot of potential, and it can’t be long before European clubs start taking notice of the pacey winger.

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4. Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi can strike a ball.

The Frenchman scored his first Major League Soccer goal last night and what a screamer it was, already a contender for goal of the season.

Since joining the Earthquakes from AC Ajaccio, he has played eight times. No game more memorable than last night as his strike won the game. Be sure to check it out in the highlights below:

LA Galaxy finally get a win, but what did we learn in their victory against FC Dallas?

FC Dallas travelled to LA on Wednesday night and were confined to a 2-1 defeat as the Galaxy ended their run of four games without a win. Here are a few things we learnt from this result:

1. Feed Robbie Keane and he will score.

As we said in our recent podcast, the Galaxy has to get the ball to Keane, especially in the absence of Landon Donovan, who is likely off to the World Cup, and it is down to ‘Keano’ to get the goals.

The Irishman scored his sixth of the season last night, and it is already a contender for goal of the week as he beat two defenders before planting the ball the in the top corner.

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(Photo: Keane celebrating after his brilliant goal last night)

2. Fabian Castillo is dangerous.

The 21 year-old Dallas winger has pace to burn and will cause fullbacks problems all season. He will however, need someone to get on the end of his inviting crosses, which means his teammates will have to keep up with him!

He is a similar player to Tottenham’s Aaron Lennon or Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, as Castillo has impressive acceleration which can leave defenders for dead, and his opponents will struggle even more if he were to adapt by cutting in and shooting more often.

Castillo is one to watch for Dallas!

 

3. Dallas need to change it up.

Without a win in six after last night, it must be time to revert back to basics. Too many times the ball would be launched up field, but would not stick.

Dallas needs to go with a strike partnership up top and spend more time in the opponents half, which is difficult with the number of injuries but they just need bodies going forward.

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(Photo: Fabian Castillo needs support up top for FC Dallas)

 

4. Juninho can hold the fort till Donovan returns.

As mentioned before, Landon Donovan is away with the USMNT and as such, the Galaxy midfield is missing a lot of experience.

However, in Juninho they have a defensive midfielder who can direct attacks and shield a defence that has been below par this season.

 

5. Omar Gonzalez could not come back sooner.

Like Donovan, Gonzalez is being missed in LA. The defending hasn’t been good enough and they need their star centre-half back as soon as possible.

With the Galaxy expected to push on for a playoff berth, LA will need Gonzalez back to stabilise the defence.

 

Highlights via MLS on YouTube:

Preview: LA Galaxy and FC Dallas look to stop the rot in tonights meeting

LA Galaxy host FC Dallas in the late game on Wednesday night at the StubHub Center as both sides look to end poor winless streaks.

The Galaxy are without a win in four, and Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Dynamo means they have only scored one in their past three games.

They are missing Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez, who are with the USMNT’s training camp but Robbie Keane should feature for LA in tonights match.

FC Dallas are on a five-game winless run, and their 1-1 draw with Chivas USA at the weekend ended a run of four losses in a row.

They started the season so well, but are now really struggling and injuries to key players isn’t making their task any easier.

Mauro Diaz will be out for a lengthy period, and midfielder Hendry Thomas is also expected to miss around six weeks too.

Dallas still sit in third in the Western Conference on 17 points, eight higher than bottom placed LA, who have played four games less.

Tonight’s game should be a tight contest as neither side can afford to lose, and Dallas will look to soak up pressure and counter-attack through the pace of Fabian Castillo.

The Galaxy are playing just their third home game of the season, and will relish the prospect of playing in front of their own fans after four consecutive away matches.

They will need to start taking their chances, they have scored just eight goals in eight games and have a chance conversion rate of just 5%. A shocking statistic when they have Robbie Keane up front.

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(Photo: Robbie Keane will want to add to his 5 goals in tonight’s meeting)

Keane started behind Rob Friend and Samuel on Saturday, but he will need to feature as the striker tonight if the Galaxy want to get goals, and they should as Dallas have not kept a clean-sheet all season.

Both sides play again at the weekend, and will want to take maximum points from the double gameweek, though it’s a tough task for Dallas who travel to Real Salt Lake on Sunday. LA have another home game against Philadelphia and a good opportunity to push up the table.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – Dallas will need him to break quickly whenever they have the opportunity, as they will look to soak up pressure from LA all night.

Key Statistic: LA Galaxy have scored from just 5% of their chances created so far this season.

Prediction: LA Galaxy 2-0 FC Dallas