FC Dallas’s secret weapon came out of the shadows of his more recognized teammates this weekend and the rest of MLS should be worried. Michael Barrios’s performance against DC United earned him a very deserved MLS Player of the Week honor, and with his abilities he should find himself in contention for the honor again in the future.
When discussion regarding FC Dallas takes place, it typically begins with the dynamic duo of Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo. The skill level and performance of both players rightfully commands a great deal of attention. When talk of the talented attackers winds down, the next topic is typically the growth and talents of academy graduates like Kellyn Acosta and Jesse Gonzalez.
Barrios is often an afterthought when compared to his more talked about teammates, but the winger is a player whose skill warrants a spot in the sun, not in the shadows. FCD acquired the talented Colombian before the 2015 season. Though small in stature, FC Dallas knew they were getting a player with big time talent.
He bagged seven goals and two assists in his first MLS season all while acclimating himself and his family to a new environment. Expectations for Barrios this season within the FC Dallas family were for him to perform at a high level, and he has not disappointed.
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With excellent speed and great footwork, Barrios is the right type of player to man the opposite wing from Castillo. Both are able to take space and create opportunities keeping defenders on their heel. With Diaz pulling the strings from his central position, their diagonal and overlapping runs are typically rewarded with proper service putting them in advantageous positions against their opponents. Having two explosive players on opposite wings to worry about allows FCD to attack using the entire field.
Barrios uses his speed to cause havoc down the right wing. With the ball on his feet, he is adept at cutting back to the inside to force the defense to adjust. He can also provide accurate service into prime scoring areas from a wide position. His low center of gravity (He is only 5′ 4″) allows him to maintain possession and hold the ball up against larger opponents. The road win at DC over the weekend showed off his ability to finish opportunities, giving more evidence of his all around game.
With Diaz, Castillo and Barrios owning similar skill sets, they are able to interchange positions throughout the game as needed. This puts greater pressure on backlines and the defensive marking responsibilities. This flexibility is a key component to Oscar Pareja’s setup at FC Dallas.
Michael Barrios spent the past season flying under the radar. His performance in DC made many stand up and take notice that Barrios is a very skilled, explosive weapon. FC Dallas circles already knew that about the 24 year old, the rest of MLS is beginning to recognize as well.