COMMERCE CITY, CO – JULY 23: Oscar Pareja, head coach of FC Dallas, works on the sideline during a game against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on July 23, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The last two remaining unbeaten teams in MLS played on Saturday night. Sporting Kansas City, who put on a defensive masterpiece in their first six games, and the defending Supporters’ Shield champions FC Dallas faced off in an early season chess match to decide the Western Conference elite.

FCD won 1-0 at home in a display of tactical fortitude, impressive roster depth, and their superiority in almost every facet of the game.

It wasn’t an especially entertaining match, and it tended to drag on a bit at times, but it was an interesting stalemate between two of the league’s best teams. You could say they played themselves to death — both teams were content to sit back and either concede possession (FCD) or take possession (SKC). Neither side looked all much better than the other, and it appeared to be heading for a 0-0 draw.

Dallas, who finished with 39% of possession, put on dynamic winger Michael Barrios late in the second half. Four minutes after the sub, Barrios found Maynor Figueroa at the back-post to secure a narrow victory. With the three points, FCD are now second in the West, two points behind Portland with two games in hand.

The adjustments made by Oscar Pareja before and during games consistently help Dallas win points. In this game, for example, he noted Sporting’s tendency to play a high line and keep the ball so he started Maxi Urruti, one of the most effective pressing forwards in the league, up top instead of Cristian Colman. They allowed SKC to keep possession, but only in their own half, and cut off distribution to No. 10 Benny Feilhaber.

As a result, Sporting had long stretches of meaningless possession:

That’s a map of passes in their own half for Sporting KC’s most-used players: Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Ilie Sanchez, and Roger Espinoza. They finished with a ton of short passes deep in their own end, and rarely turned it into real chances on the other end.

With FCD marking Feilhaber into oblivion, the central creator was unable to create much for Sporting. Rarely did SKC get a quality shot on goal, and Dom Dwyer was rendered ineffective without a middle-man to get the ball from back-to-front. Credit to FC Dallas for recognizing that not all possession is good possession.

For contrast, Dallas created five more shots on target than Sporting, and utilized their creator, Javier Morales, much more than SKC used Feilhaber. Morales had 77 touches, more than anyone else for FCD, despite his 84th-minute exit, while Feilhaber was eighth on Sporting with 57 in 90 minutes.

The hosts made more with less, and eventually, they caught SKC sleeping and slipped away with a 1-0 win. For a game that was a stalemate for so long, it’s very impressive that Dallas managed to find themselves three points.

They’re now on the fast track for another Shield, and their best player, Mauro Diaz, is still out with a torn ACL. This team is solid in every area of the field, and it’s becoming hard to pinpoint many weaknesses. They have two forwards who find themselves consistently in great scoring positions surrounded by workhorse wingers who know how to get to the endline and create chances.

Carlos Gruezo is an efficient, shutdown defensive midfielder with the potential to be really, really good, and Kellyn Acosta has found an attacking touch this season that has put him firmly on the top of the list of MLS No. 8’s. Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges are far and away the best center back partnership in MLS, and if Geoff Cameron and John Brooks didn’t exist, I’d advocate starting them both for the US national team.

They have a healthy load versatile starting-caliber full backs who can be a threat going forward: Hernan Grana, Figueroa, Atiba Harris, Reggie Cannon, and Anibal Chala (when he returns). Ryan Hollingshead made the 18 on Saturday as well.

Add a red-hot Jesse Gonzalez to the mix and you’ve got the best team in MLS by a growing margin. They have all the characteristics of a winning team in this league: tactical flexibility, a combination of veteran nous and available young talent every position, the ability to score and defend set pieces, and midfielders who know how to boss the game.

If there will ever be a treble-winning club in MLS, it will be FC Dallas. They continue to be the easiest club to cheer for in this league, and as long as they keep game-planning expertly against teams like Sporting KC, they’ll keep winning.

About Harrison Hamm

Sports stuff for The Comeback. Often will write about MLS. Follow me on twitter @harrisonhamm21.