FRISCO, Texas — After a slow start to the Major League Soccer season, FC Dallas winger Michael Barrios has slowly made a mark on the attack, scoring or assisting in six straight matches.
Barrios only recorded one assist in the first 20 matches, but he still created chances in the final third. During that stretch, FCD coach Óscar Pareja continued to play him, even with the zeroes on the box score. Barrios seemed to lose a bit of confidence on the pitch during that stretch and wasn’t taking on opponents as before, but he continued to believe in himself, work hard in training and create opportunities, hoping to capitalize on one.
“He didn’t appear in the scorelines or the box score, but at the same time, I have to accept that Mikey creates a lot of volume on the right with Reggie [Cannon], and that was beneficial for the group,” Pareja said. “That point was not just to have that, but to have effectiveness and be efficient. That’s what he’s reaching now.”
His impressive play started July 28, with a hat trick in FC Dallas’ 3-2 victory over Sporting Kansas City.
After that, the assists and goals began to flow, pairing with Maxi Urruti on some combination plays and causing havoc on the wing.
“It’s just daily practice, with the confidence of my teammates and coaches,” Barrios said through a translator. “Just continuing to do daily work and overall thanking God and trusting in him to get these chances.”
Many of Barrios’ goals have been created by applying pressure on opposing defenses, making something out of nothing.
In FC Dallas’ 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo Aug. 23, Barrios pressured Dynamo fullback Andrew Wenger on what looked like a routine defensive play.
Barrios forced a turnover and dinked the ball past goalkeeper Joe Willis. It’s wasn’t orthodox, but it did the job.
“I take advantage of the open spaces they leave, the errors they make,” Barrios said. “I try to score and help my teammates out whenever they need it.”
His teammates are noticing. Cannon, Barrios’ usual partner on the wings, has benefitted from Barrios’ confidence. Cannon’s overlapping runs are full of space due to the attention Barrios is now receiving on the wing.
“Mikey is really blooming right now,” Cannon said. “I think he was lacking confidence at the beginning of the year. His job was to get assists, taking the guy one-on-one instead of scoring goals. After you get that first one out, you get the jitters out. He’s really shown that he can be a lethal forward that can score goals and takes everyone on. He’s really proven himself to be very strong, strong winger in the league.”
Barrios has repaid the faith Pareja gave him earlier in the season, and it’s the right time to be heating up — MLS Cup playoffs are right around the corner.
Barrios will look to continue his run at 8 p.m. ET Saturday at home against the Dynamo.
“Mikey has taken the responsibility to not just be the fast guy who creates chaos on the right,” Pareja said. “What he’s doing now is being effective in the box, whether he’s assisting or scoring. The versatility we’re having with him, just tossing him to the left or up front, he has given me a different picture of the game. Those things help.”