It is not every night that a player hits a rabona.
A bicycle kick? Sure. A rainbow? Not as often but still happens. A nutmeg? Almost certain. But a rabona?
On Saturday night in Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas FC Dallas forward Fabian Castillo hit a rabona, one of the most difficult moves in all of soccer. While the play was noteworthy it was important in that helped push Dallas past the Chicago Fire by the score of 3-1.
Now the first and most important question that needs to be answered is: just what is a rabona? For those who are still learning their soccer lingo a rabona (which in Spanish means to play hookey) is a pass or shot that is made by a player whose legs are crossed. One of the player’s legs will wrap around the other and flick the ball. The idea is to throw off any defenders that might be in the vicinity.
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While the origins of the play are a bit unknown (imagine how many players on how many pitches across the world have tried the play) the first one that is known to have been attempted during an actual match was Ricardo Infante of Estudiantes in 1948. Infante hit a rabona from about 35 meters out in a match against Rosario Central in Argentinian First Division match.
Over the years many different players have successfully attempted the move including Pele, Diego Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and even United States Men’s National Team legend Clint Dempsey who hit one in an MLS All Star Game against Tottenham Hotspur.
For Castillo, Saturday’s match was more than just a really cool trick. After having a breakout season in 2015, Castillo has struggled a bit in 2016. Although he does have five goals this season, his passing has not nearly been as sharp as season’s past and has not really synced up with either Mauro Diaz and Maximilliano Urruti.
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Some of this seems to be due to the change in position. With the addition of Urruti, Castillo has mostly been relegated to work down the left flank and long balls into the box. But Dallas coach Oscar Pareja made a slight adjustment on Saturday by having Castillo more diagonal runs and less straight runs. That allowed Castillo to have a more direct role in the attack, helping set up not just Urruti’s goal but Mauro Rosales’ as well.
The question for Dallas is now if they can keep this up. The club will head out a road again on Wednesday to take on the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup. Although Dallas’ home form (8-0-3, 27 points) has been impressive, their road form (4-6-1, 13 points) has left a lot to be desired.
If Castillo can build on Saturday’s victory then Dallas supporters might have more to celebrate than just a really cool trick.