On opening day for Major League Soccer, Philadelphia Union fell to FC Dallas to the tune of 2-0. However, that score line does not do justice to the dominance of Dallas throughout the match, as the Union were thoroughly dominated in every facet of the game.
In the first half, Dallas nearly opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Atiba Harris found Mauro Diaz for a point-blank finish. However, luckily for the Union, referee Mark Geiger blew his whistle for a handball on Dallas on the play, which negated the goal. It would not be the last time Dallas would get opportunities from close range.
In the 13th minute, Harris once again got to the end line against a hapless Fabinho and found forward Maximiliano Urruti. Urruti redirected it on net, forcing a great reaction save from Union goalkeeper Andre Blake.
Not even five minutes later, Dallas forced another dangerous shot on net. In the 16th minute, a long pass from the Dallas defense was headed onto to winger Michael Barrios. Barrios sprinted onto the ball and went one-on-one with Blake. Blake ran off his line and got a piece of the ball, causing Barrios to cut outside, away from goal. Barrios found fellow winger Fabian Castillo on the penalty spot with an open goal. Fabinho did well to make himself large and deflected the resulting Castillo shot away from net to keep the score tied.
With all of their amounting pressure, Dallas was nearly assured to break the tie, which they accomplished in the 20th minute, when Fabinho lost the ball in the attacking half. Dallas midfielder Carlos Gruezo dispossessed Fabinho on the left flank and found Kellyn Acosta in the center of the field to start the counter attack. Diaz, who found himself involved in the attack all day, received the pass and found Castillo past the offside trap for the breakaway. This time, Dallas would not be stopped by Blake, as Castillo slotted through the legs of the young Jamaican keeper for the 1-0 lead.
Despite only a one-goal lead, the Oscar Pareja-led side was having little trouble disposing of the Philadelphia defense. Three Union defenders (Rosenberry, Tribbett and Anderson) made their MLS regular season debuts on Sunday and were played and shot down like fish in a barrel.
Second Half Features More Of Same
The second half featured much of the same from the two sides. Philadelphia did manage to gain more possession of the ball, but only managed two shots on net the entire game.
Dallas iced the game for good in the 79th minute when they once again dispossessed Fabinho outside the Union’s 18-yard box. Diaz found Urruti on the low-hit cross through the box for the 2-0 lead. When the whistle blew, Philadelphia found themselves only down two, but realistically should been blown out completely.
What Went Wrong For Philly?
The bright spot in the game was solely Andre Blake for Philadelphia. Blake continued to play like the 2014 first overall SuperDraft pick. He made eight saves and single-handedly kept the game from becoming laugh-worthy.
Union Defense Disappoints In 2016 Debut
The defense, with little MLS experience, was completely hapless against the hopeful title contenders. Specifcially, the outside fullbacks, Fabinho and Rosenberry, were flat out embarrassed all game by Castillo and Barrios.
The rookie Rosenberry did show a couple bright spots out there in the offensive half, but still looked very much like someone who had never played in MLS. His matchup with Castillo was always going to be considered a tall order though, but the 23 year-old Colombian winger without question got the best of the third overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
As poor as his counterpart may have looked, Fabinho looked himself lost. The overlapping fullback Harris beat him to the end line numerous times, which set up dangerous opportunities all game. Not to mention, both of Dallas’ goals came off Fabinho dispossessions.
Considering the lack of shots on net, the midfield, which featured new additions Ilsinho and Chris Pontius, was unable to neither create any service to CJ Sapong nor really get anything going in the attacking half.
For Union fans, the play was concerning, but it is not time to sound the alarm after one game. This team, which went through many changes this offseason, will take time to gel together into a cohesive unit. Until then, there will be growing pains.
The Blue and Gold will look to bounce back when the face another tough test next Saturday in Columbus Crew. FC Dallas will look to build upon this dominant performance next Saturday when they take on Houston Dynamo.