After a summer of close matches saw an oft-depleted FC Dallas preserve its place in the West’s top five, the Toros are now hitting their stride. On the heels of last week’s 3-1 win over Colorado, Óscar Pareja’s team engineered a Saturday exposition reminiscent of its early season surge, handing San Jose an embarrassing 5-0 loss at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Predictably, given both teams have begun living on the counter, the team that found the most open space dominated. Fabián Castillo, sure to spend the rest of the night in Jason Hernandez’s nightmares, scored the first on a great individual effort in the 30th minute (after). The Colombian would assist on Tesho Akindele’s goal just before half time before completing his double in the second. After Akindele added his sixth and seventh goals of the season (the first hat trick of his career), Dallas was within three points of first in the Western Conference.
The night was another example of Castillo, still only 22, taking his game to another level. Long acknowledged as a danger man for his unmatched speed, Castillo’s evolved into something more, moving beyond a player who’ll put the final ball into the 12th row. In addition to better finishing, the Toros attacker has improved his ability to set up teammates, occasionally slowing his play at the edge of the penalty area rather than hoping his speed can win the attack’s final moments. In the absence of Mauro Díaz, Castillo became a better player.
It’s a big reason why the West must start taking Dallas seriously. Instead of being solely the Díaz show, FCD has a second elite attacker, one that can lead a rout even when his partner is left back in Dallas.
With his team on short rest after Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup marathon, Pareja relied on Castillo to lead a rotated squad. The result proved how important (and potentially, reliable) the Colombian’s become.
He’s a player that could tear apart the LA defense, and after the influence Joao Plata had against Seattle today, this version of Fabián Castillo could force the Sounders’ hand, too. Real Salt Lake has the talent to deal with almost any threat, but if we remember the chances Robbie Keane and the Galaxy have been able to generate against RSL, it’s tempting to ask what those attacks would look like with a player like Castillo joining in support.
It should go without saying: Good players make teams better. In the past, however, the extent was debatable. Just how good is Fabián Castillo? How much of what we see is potential? How much is actually being translated into production?
With eight goals and three assists this season (and another four goals in Open Cup), production is no longer a question. And on nights like Saturday, it’s difficult to imagine many more dangerous players in Major League Soccer.