As much as soccer is about the 11 guys on the pitch working in rhythm with each other, the offensive end of the game primarily focuses on one guy who creates chances for other guys to cash in goals.
For the U.S. men’s national team, it’s Michael Bradley. For Manchester United, it’s Angel Di Maria, when he’s playing.
For FC Dallas, that player has turned out to be midfielder Mauro Diaz. This season, the 24-year-old from Argentina has proven to be an incredibly vital player for the Hoops. In six games played in this season, Diaz has scored twice and has assisted on four other goals. Tack on this start to last year where he posted three goals and three assists in an injury-plagued season and it’s easy to see him being such a key part for the club.
Which leads to this simple statement: FC Dallas will only go as far this season as Diaz takes them.
Take Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Galaxy for example. FC Dallas was trailing 1-0 when Diaz scooped the ball over the heads of several Galaxy defenders and into the chest of Blas Perez, who made a perfectly timed run. The result was the tying goal for the Hoops.
Then with time winding down in the match, Diaz, drawing the attention of a number of defenders, made a long, cross-field pass to a wide-open Tesho Akindele, who then powered a shot into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.
It’s just a small snap shot of what he has done for the team this season. When he’s on the field, he’s creating chances for the plethora of attacking options FC Dallas has. The combination of Diaz’s tricks and forward Fabian Castillo’s speeds can be deadly for opposing offenses. In fact the duo hooked up for two goals two weeks ago against Houston and it was a long pass from Diaz that allowed Castillo to set up another goal for the Hoops.
Add that to what FC Dallas has with Blas Perez, who is certainly the workhorse on the offensive end, and Tesho Akindele, who appears to be in good form to avoid the “sophomore slump,” and the Hoops’ attack can certainly be the most dangerous offense in the league.
But then comes the biggest issue with Diaz — health. In his short time with FC Dallas, the “Magician,” as he’s become known, has missed a number of matches. Last year, he only appeared in half of the team’s regular season matches and only started in nine matches. This year Diaz has already missed four matches with an injury. And he can’t be effective on the bench.
But there’s no mistaking the fact that Diaz is a vital player for FC Dallas, giving the Hoops’ attack life it desperately needs at times. And if FC Dallas is going to make a run at the U.S. Open Cup, at the Supporter’s Shield and at the MLS Cup, Diaz is going to have to carry this offense on his back.