Dallas Soccer: Zip It

FC Dallas earns tough win at home against Toronto

May, 12, 2011
A Daniel Hernandez penalty kick in first half stoppage time provided all the scoring FC Dallas would need to turn back Toronto FC 1-0 Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park.

Hernandez’ excellent service from a free kick instigated the penalty kick when George John was brought down by Toronto defender Adrian Cann. Hernandez stepped to the penalty spot and notched his first MLS goal since 2002.

FC Dallas failed to score in the run of play against one of the poorer defenses in MLS. Clearly, FC Dallas is trying to find an answer to the departure of injured league MVP David Ferreira. Off-season acquisition Andrew Jacobson was the latest experiment for coach Schellas Hyndman to fill the gaping void.

But Dallas was consistently let down in the attacking third as players failed to make runs into the box. Several good services were simply turned away by a Toronto defense that saw little pressure from the crucial runs.

The attacking mood for Dallas improved a bit in the final 15 minutes of the first half when Dallas finally switched into a diamond 4-4-2 with Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez providing duties up top. But Castillo and Chavez inability to hold up the ball under pressure negated their blazing speed for much of the second half as Toronto held onto the ball and easily turned back Dallas counter-attack opportunities. It’s unfortunate for Dallas, because the questions of whether Hernandez can provide the range necessary for attacking and defending out of this formation remains largely unanswered. The question of who can provide the answer to the attacking midfielder role also remains in doubt.

While Dallas has provided 2 wins and a scoreless tie in the three matches without Ferreira, the dearth of goals- just three in those three matches- remains a huge concern. It’s disappointing that Eric Avila has only cemented himself in his role as super-sub and not the answer to Dallas problems. While the results are positive, goals have to be scored to win soccer matches. Dallas inability to score from the run of play will certainly haunt them if the trend continues.

On a more positive note, the Dallas defense was a force last night, limiting Toronto to a serious of long-distance speculative shots. Kevin Hartman was rarely tested and once again proved to be up to the task. Centerbacks George John and Ugo Ihemelu had perhaps their best match together on the year as they thwarted Toronto aspirations.

Perhaps the best news for Dallas is the stretch of four matches in just 14 days should provide plenty of opportunity to work out the kinks in their attack. It is a huge positive that this club seems to be like last years in that they never seem to stop working. They’ll need to keep that never-say-die attitude as they continue to adjust to Ferreira’s absence.

Time will certainly tell, but May may be be the Month of Answers for FC Dallas.

FC Dallas rebounds against Whitecaps on the road

April, 24, 2011
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

And so it went for FC Dallas as they posted a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday afternoon at Empire Field. George John (53’) and super-sub Eric Avila (83’) scored for FC Dallas.

The first half of the match felt all too eerily familiar for FC Dallas as Vancouver struck early to gain the lead from a set-piece in just the 25th minute. For the second week in a row, Ugo Ihemelu was beaten, this time by Alain Rochat, whose header easily beat Kevin Hartman.

Dallas should have equalized just two minutes later. Andrew Jacobson’s missile found the outstretched arm of Rochat, sending David Ferreira to the penalty spot. But Ferreira, looking confident and comfortable, simply shanked the ball wide left without even challenging Whitecaps ‘keeper Jay Nolly.

The second half restart saw the insertion of Milton Rodriguez for Fabian Castillo and almost immediately paid dividends, as the FC Dallas attack gained momentum from a poor first half.

Then tragedy struck.

Ferreira fractured his right ankle on a rough tackle from behind in the 52’ minute, but the 2010 MLS MVP did enough to earn a corner. After Ferreira was stretchered off the pitch, George John equalized for the visitors.

Eric Avila , taking the place of the injured Ferreira, again played the role of FC Dallas hero. His cool finish to the far post saved the day for his club and eased the pain of another lackluster half of football and the loss of the club’s best player.

Dallas season now hinges on the performance of Eric Avila, a player who’s often been brilliant as a sub, and often less than spectacular as a starter. The upside is that Avila’s greatest weakness- his defense- will not be much of a liability as he slips into the departed Ferreira’s spot for who knows how long. There is no doubt that Avila has the ability to change matches. The more worrisome aspect of his game, however, is that he sometimes seems to get lost in the match. For FC Dallas to be successful over a long stretch of matches without Ferreira, Avila must maintain his focus and provide the spark that Ferreira always has.

It is too early to tell if the Vancouver win was a signal that this club is turning the corner. The quality of play in the first half versus the second was stark in his difference. Perhaps the single greatest reason was the insertion of Rodriquez. His ability to hold up the ball and allow the Dallas midfield to join the attack was sorely missed in the first half. While Castillo’s blazing flash and dash played havoc with Vancouver’s young back line at times, the Dallas attack was disjointed and rarely got to join in. One wonders if the Castillo experiment will continue.

Dallas has just joined the 2011 season. The aches and pains and injuries and turmoil that mark a team’s seasonal journey has just begun.

As an addition to this article, I would like to add a couple of personal thoughts. I do not normally write about myself, but last night I had an extraordinary experience. You see, there were tornadoes all around my area. I heard the sirens and found out I had eleven minutes before the tornado arrived to make a decision on my personal safety. I quickly stripped the covers off my bed and dragged my king-size mattress into the bathroom and over the bathtub. I hid there, but I called my mother on my cell-phone, the only person I could think of to talk me through this moment of crisis.

I know it sounds silly, but I thought about soccer in there, too. I thought about how much personal joy and agony goes into the way our team performs, the ups and downs of a long season and playoffs and such. But I will tell you, sitting there in my bathtub, praying no tornado would come put things into perspective.

While I would never wish any of you to ever be in harm’s way, I do hope that you gain the same perspective. Soccer is a wonderful sport and pastime. But it is definitely not life or death.

Happy Easter.

Scoring Summary:
VAN -- Alain Rochat 1 (Davide Chiumiento 5, Jeb Brovsky 1) 25
DAL -- George John 1 (Jackson Goncalves 1, Marvin Chavez 2) 53
DAL -- Eric Avila 1 (Milton Rodriguez 1, Jair Benitez 1) 83

Misconduct Summary:
DAL -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Reckless Tackle) 30
DAL -- Andrew Jacobson (caution; Reckless Foul) 66
VAN -- Eric Hassli (caution; Tactical Foul) 80


FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Ugo Ihemelu, Jackson Goncalves, George John, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez (Eric Alexander 71), Fabian Castillo (Milton Rodriguez 46), Daniel Hernandez, Andrew Jacobson, Brek Shea, David Ferreira (Eric Avila 55).

Substitutes Not Used: Maykel Galindo, Zach Loyd, Ruben Luna, Chris Seitz.

Vancouver Whitecaps -- Jay Nolly, Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat, Blake Wagner, Wes Knight (Nizar Khalfan 61), Terry Dunfield, Jeb Brovsky (Kevin Harmse 77), Davide Chiumiento (Omar Salgado 84), Camilo, Eric Hassli.

Substitutes Not Used: Mouloud Akloul, Long Tan, Russell Teibert, Joe Cannon.

Referee: Juan Guzman
Referee's Assistants: -Fabio Tovar; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo

Attendance: 21,000
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Sunny and 61 degrees

FC Dallas falls short in comeback at Portland

April, 17, 2011
The Portland Timbers stormed out to a 3-0 lead over FC Dallas before two late goals provided for an exciting finish, but left Dallas wondering after they eventually fell 3-2 on Sunday afternoon at Jeld Wen field.

Portland opened the scoring in the 13th minute as a quickly taken set-piece caught Dallas flat-footed. Jack Jewsbury found room inside the 18-yard box and banged a shot off the post that deflected off the back of Kevin Hartman for the unlikely first score. Portland struck again in the 35th minute as former FC Dallas man Kenny Cooper’s header from a corner pushed the surging Timbers in front 2-0. The Timbers final score of the day was provided by Rodney Wallace in the 53rd minute, as he came free in the box on a feed from Kalif Alhassan.

The match looked effectively over for the Men in Stripes, but two late goals and some controversy provided an exciting closure to the match. First, David Ferreira scored from a feed from Brek Shea in the 83rd minute. Then just three minutes later, Shea hit the back of the net on his own. A late missed handball inside the penalty area, plus several frantic goal mouth scrambles will leave Dallas wondering if they should not have come away with a point in this match.

It was an unfortunate end to a very unfortunate match for FC Dallas, whose play on the day was never horrible. In fact, in the first half, Dallas looked to be the better team on all but two chances. But poor luck and a mental error conspired to cause them to chase the match early, a very poor way to have to play in a stadium with such loud and inspired supporters.

There is very little for Dallas to take home positive from this match. Sure, the comeback was valiant. The determination to come back and keep fighting is commendable. It was the never-say-die attitude of the 2010 team that led to such accomplishments as the 19-match unbeaten streak and a berth in the MLS Cup. But this is 2011, and mental errors and uneven form have led to a very shaky start to the season.

It was the things that Dallas did not do in this match that were more troublesome. First of all, Dallas inability to keep a 20 year-old third-string goalkeeper under pressure is inexcusable. A well-rested Dallas was never able to impose their will on a Timbers team working on only three days’ rest. Falling asleep on a free kick is another team mistake that cost them dearly. And even though Dallas controlled possession throughout the first half, they could not make Portland pay. Despite the comeback, it was a less-than-stellar day at the office.

So the slow Dallas start continues. Surely, more changes in the lineup are coming for next week’s matchup against Vancouver in another stadium that will be loud and raucous. One has to wonder if the ineffective Milton Rodriquez has seen his last days as a starter for a while. Schellas Hyndman showed in this match he is willing to place Fabian Castillo up top alone. Could Shea make his return to left mid with Jair Benitez assuming his old role at left back?

Designing hypothetical lineups are the task of wannabe managers who believe they have answers Hyndman does not see. I am not quite so bold. My question is much simpler: When will we see the composed, mentally tough club that imposed its will on opponents time and again in 2010? We saw glimpses of it in the Colorado match against a team who checked out barely after kickoff. It is not likely to be the case in Vancouver.

Which Dallas team will step on their field for FC Dallas? Unfortunately, it will take a week to find out.

FC Dallas clobbers old Cup foe Colorado

April, 9, 2011
David Ferreira’s brace led the way as FC Dallas demolished defending MLS Cup Champions Colorado Rapids 3-0 Friday night before 12,261 at Pizza Hut Park. It was the first win of the 2011 campaign for Dallas, while Colorado suffered their first defeat.

Colorado was forced to play the match without Pablo Mastroeni and Conor Casey, both out with injuries.

Ugo Ihemelu opened the scoring in just the 26th minute from a flick-on header from Marvin Chavez, who suffered a concussion and would leave the match on a stretcher. Ihemelu was left wide open and banged the ball into the side of the net for the first Dallas goal since opening night.

David Ferreira would score the next two for FC Dallas in a display that announced his return to 2010 form. In the 40th minute, Fabian Castillo’s excellent through ball freed Ferreira for a one-on-one with goalkeeper Matt Pickens. Ferreira’s cheeky fake and subsequent chip over the sprawling Pickens made the score 2-0. Then, just after the restart for the second half, a Daniel Hernandez through-ball sprang Eric Avila, whose cross across the mouth of goal was banged in by Ferreira to provide the final score.

It was a return to the free-flowing, open football FC Dallas fans grew accustomed to in the 2010 season. Colorado, without Mastroeni to police midfield, was constantly pulled out of shape by the ever-moving Dallas attack. The match was actually not as close as the score indicated. Were it not for two excellent Pickens saves in the first half, the score could have easily been 5-0 or worse. This was a total and complete dismantling of the Rapids.

This match surely provides hope and encouragement that this club is back on track. It’s amazing what this team is capable of when they keep their composure and all 11 men on the field for a match. The free-flowing, pace-pushing attack Dallas provides when at full-strength was missing for two of the first three matches Dallas played due to dumb red cards suffered, leaving Dallas to play at full strength for just 92 minutes. What a change this match was.

A key ingredient to the improvement was Brek Shea’s insertion at left back. Removing him from the center of the pitch to deal with onrushing forwards allowed the young player to play a more familiar role, albeit from a slightly deeper position. Surely bad news for Jair Benitez, Head Coach Schellas Hyndman may have found the chemistry in the back line he’s been searching for. Hyndman clearly wants Shea on the field somewhere. Fabian Castillo’s performance at left wing further solidified his hold on the position, while Hyndman won’t likely tinker with a back four that produced Dallas’ first clean sheet of the season. It will surely be some time before we see Benitez on this pitch again.

Although a huge concern and worry, the concussion suffered by Chavez will now provide yet another opportunity for Erica Avila to stake his place in the starting lineup. Avila’s ability to create and get forward into the attack could allow Dallas to mitigate the loss of Chavez, keeping the Dallas attack dangerous through both wings, where Dallas must succeed in order to play the type of football they desire.

Dallas next travels to the Pacific Northwest to face two expansion teams, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Kenny Cooper, Jr. led Portland Timbers. Two contests against much weaker opponents than even the injury-plagued Rapids should provide Dallas with their first opportunity for this year’s first win streak. Two wins would go a very long way in erasing the misery of the season’s opening and could provide further evidence of what this year’s edition is capable of.

Attendance: 12,261

Scoring Summary:
DAL – Ugo Ihemelu (Marvin Chavez) 26
DAL – David Ferreira (Fabian Castillo) 40
DAL – David Ferriera (Eric Avila, Daniel Hernandez) 46

FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Brek Shea, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Zach Loyd, Fabian Castillo, David Ferreira, Andrew Jacobson (Eric Alexander 70), Daniel Hernandez, Marvin Chavez (Eric Avila 30), Milton Rodriguez (Ruben Luna 66).

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Bobby Warshaw, Maykel Galindo, Ricardo Villar.

TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (David Ferreira 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Ferreira 3); FOULS: 12 (Eric Alexander 2, Daniel Hernandez 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 8 (David Ferreira 8); SAVES: 0 (Kevin Hartman 0)

Colorado Rapids – Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Anthony Wallace (Tyrone Marshall 63), Joseph Nane, Jeff Larentowicz, Jamie Smith, Sanna Nyassi (Brian Mullan 46), Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan (Quincy Amarikwa 61).

Substitutes Not Used: Steward Ceus, Andre Akpan, Scott Palguta, Wells Thompson.

TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Quincy Amarikwa 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 16 (Sanna Nyassi 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Caleb Folan 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Jamie Smith 1); SAVES: 4 (Matt Pickens 4)

Misconduct Summary:
DAL – Andrew Jacobson (caution; reckless tackle) 13
COL – Sanna Nyassi (caution; persistent infringement) 19
COL – Caleb Folan (caution; reckless foul) 33
COL – Anthony Wallace (caution; reckless tackle) 52
COL – Omar Cummings (caution; reckless foul) 81
COL – Drew Moor (caution; reckless tackle) 84
DAL – Daniel Hernandez (caution; dissent) 90

Referee: Paul Ward
Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Anthony Vasoli
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees


FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman

We played very well tonight. Our high level of pressure caused Colorado problems. It was a great performance. The team is getting better each week. At the same time, I also think Colorado is a better team than last year.

On if he is relieved by the result

Of course it is – it’s a relief for all of us. Our expectations are high. We’ve had two center backs that were injured. Having Ugo [Ihemelu] and George [John] back there is a relief.

On Andrew Jacobson’s first start of the season

AJ did very well. He was that connecting piece we have been missing. He had a good first performance.

On Fabian Castillo

Colorado is a championship team. To see them struggling to stop Fabian says a lot about his potential. He brings more speed to the game and improves the team.
FC Dallas midfielder Eric Avila

When I got the nod to come in, I just wanted to continue to attack and keep up that energy we were playing with. It was an unfortunate situation, coming in for someone who gets injured. You never want to see that, but when you get an opportunity you need to take it.

On his assist

It was great, getting my first touch of the second half like that. I made the run and fortunately Daniel [Hernandez] saw me take off and he put a ball right on my foot. I wanted to draw the goalkeeper to the near post and then I saw David [Ferreira] making that run to the back post. I just hit it as hard as I could at the back post.
FC Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu

All week we really focused on finding our identity. Last season, we’d come out and put a lot of pressure on the other team, play in their half. We came back with that mentality this game and it paid off.

On his goal

Chavez challenged for it and it dropped in the right spot for me. I just focused on making contact with it because I was so near the goal. Lucky for me it hit the post and came back the other direction. For me, a little bit of luck, but I’ll take it.
Colorado midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

That’s what’s disappointing is we know we’re a better team than that. Just tonight from the get-go, we didn’t have it. We didn’t show what we really had. Dallas is a team that is good attacking and they can exploit things when you’re not showing your best and they did tonight. I think ultimately we’ll have to go back and look at it to find the technical things, but I think that for every game in this league you have to be up, you have to be ready and you have to prepare for battle because all the teams are good.
It’s a 34-game season and that was only one game, so we’ll move on.

Crew drop two on FC Dallas

April, 1, 2011
Andres Mendoza scored in the 54th minute and Eddie Gaven netted a brace in the 91st as FC Dallas handed over a match 2-0 to the Columbus Crew Friday night at Crew Stadium.

FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman rolled out five changes from last week’s disappointing 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes. Brek Shea and Ugo Ihemelu returned to defense, pushing Jackson into the linking midfielder’s role. Fabian Castillo earned his first MLS start on the left wing, as did Ruben Luna in the sole striker’s position up top.

None of these changes made much difference, however, as mental lapses and poor decisions gifted the match to Columbus.

The problems started in just the 33rd minute as Jackson earned his second yellow of the match on a challenge to Gaven that saw him sent off. Then in the 53rd minute, George John brought down Emmanual Ekpo in the box on a poor challenge before Ekpo was ever in shooting position. Columbus designated player Mendoza stepped to the spot and knocked it under a sprawling Kevin Hartman for the 1-0 lead.

This season’s start would have to be considered disappointing on any level. That Dallas has now played two of their three matches a man down is bad enough. We’ve grown accustomed to Hyndman-led teams getting off to a slow start. But the number of mental gaffs and inability of players to step up to the task is an alarming early trend. Certainly there is yet no reason to believe this season is a disaster in the making; no such signs exist. But as the frustration continues to mount, just awaiting a solid performance is feeling nowhere near.

Despite the negativity, there were some positive signs in this match. Castillo’s debut showed yet more of the abilities that are to provide excitement and goals as the season continues. Despite less-than-excellent distribution, Brek Shea was much more solid in central defense, definitely a step forward from his performance opening week. And while Ruben Luna did not have any excellent chances on goal, his ability to hold up the ball and be a part of the attack shows promise for the young striker.

But the biggest hole on this team continues to be the linking midfielder role so ably filled by Dax McCarty last season. Who will Hyndman try next Friday in the MLS Cup rematch against the Colorado Rapids? Many fans will want Erica Avila, but his lack of defensive ability may preclude him in Hyndman’s mind. And let’s face it, Avila has proved to be exactly what he is: a late match energy sub; he’s not starting caliber for this club.

But the question becomes, who is?

The sooner someone steps up in the linking role, the sooner Dallas can work on resolving another painful trouble: only a single goal through three matches. It should only be a matter of time before the shots start falling for the Red & White. Dallas certainly did not begin the season scoring much a year ago and ended up fine. But waiting for the breakthrough is nerve wrecking.

It’s a long season. But Dallas fans will feel no better after this loss. A win against the hated Rapids could do wonders to ease early season fears.

Scoring Summary:
CLB – Andres Mendoza (Penalty Kick) 54
CLB – Eddie Gaven (Robbie Rogers) 91+

Misconduct Summary:
CLB – Emmanuel Ekpo (caution; Reckless Foul) 20
DAL – Jackson (caution; Reckless Foul) 32
DAL – Jackson (caution; Reckless Tackle) 33
DAL – Jackson (ejection; Second Caution) 33
CLB – Dejan Rusmir (caution; Reckless Foul) 42
CLB – Kevin Burns (caution; Reckless Tackle) 88


FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Ugo Ihemelu, Brek Shea, George John, Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez (Zach Loyd 78), Daniel Hernandez, Jackson, Fabian Castillo (Milton Rodriguez 78), David Ferreira, Ruben Luna

Subs not used: Eric Alexander, Eric Avila, Andrew Jacobson, Ricardo Villar, Chris Seitz

TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Luna and Rodriguez 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Luna 3); FOULS: 10 (Four Players with 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Chavez 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Ferreira 2); SAVES: 4 (Hartman 4)

Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan, Eddie Gaven, Dejan Rusmir (Emilio Renteria 46), Kevin Burns, Robbie Rogers, Emmanuel Ekpo (Dilly Duka 85), Andres Mendoza (Jeff Cunningham 61)

Subs not used: Josh Gardner, Tommy Heinemann, Andy Iro, Alex Riggs

TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Gaven and Mendoza 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Gaven and Mendoza 2); FOULS: 16 (Burns and Ekpo 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Four players with 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Gaven 4); SAVES: 7 (Hesmer 7).

Weather: Cloudy, 48 degrees

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee Assistants: C.J. Morgante, Corey Rockwell

4th Official: Jasen Anno

Time of Game: 1:51

Attendance: 14,549


FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman:

General impressions on the game: “To play down a man when you’re on the road doesn’t help. I don’t feel we were outplayed, I think that even down a man we had an opportunity to stay in the game and it was the circumstances that made the game as difficult as it was.”

FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman:

On the penalty shot: I wanted to stay up as long as I could. He [Mendoza] seemed like the type of player who wants to see where the goalkeeper’s going so I tried to stay as long as I could. I got a really good jump on it, I got a hand on it, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to pull it out of the post.

General impressions on the game: It is tough to judge a team when you play 60 minutes down a man. I thought we really worked hard to try and catch the equalizer and we were threatening and it speaks to our character not wanting to give up and continue to push.

Crew head coach Robert Warzycha:

On the game: Defensively, we played a really solid game. When we see Dallas play, we see the backs overlapping and Ferreira getting chances but we did not see that today. I think we controlled the game even before they got the red card. We need to play a little better in front. We need to hold the ball a little bit longer and get the midfielders involved. Overall, I was happy with the performance.

On playing with the man advantage: We put an extra forward on the field. We put Emilio [Renteria] in to try to put a little bit more pressure on the defenders, especially on the crosses. Sometimes it is tough to play with a man advantage, because you think everything is going to fall your way. When you play with the advantage, you have to play harder. At some point, we gave Dallas a little bit of momentum, but we took control of the game back in the end and we had chances in the end and scored on one.

Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer:

On getting the shutout: We were excellent defensively. We were organized and compact, even before they got the red card. I think we did a better job at keeping the ball, but even when they got the ball we didn’t allow them to do much.

Overall: It was very important to get this win. The team needed confidence to start believing in themselves. We’re a good team, but you don’t start believing it until you start piling up some wins and hopefully this will help.

Crew forward Andres Mendoza:

On taking the penalty shot: I was thinking about getting the ball in the back of the net and scoring the goal. Normally I watch the goalkeeper to see where he goes and I was able to beat him.

Thoughts on the game: I think we did well and worked hard. We did everything that the coach told us. Even after we scored, we didn’t let up and kept going. Little by little, we are improving.

San Jose Earthquakes 2 vs FC Dallas 0

March, 27, 2011
FC Dallas fell to the San Jose Earthquakes and the Chris Wondolowski Show 2-0 at Pizza Hut Park Saturday night in a poor first-half showing to continue a slow start for the defending Western Conference champions.

Lax marking by last week’s hero, Zach Loyd, gave the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner Wondolowski the time and space to score twice in the game’s first 25 minutes.

Wondolowski’s first goal came in just the fifth minute of play. After receiving a ball in the box, Wondolowski took the ball off a volley with time to turn and punch the shot past a helpless Kevin Hartman. His second goal would come in just the 23rd minute after Dallas was unable to clear the ball on a set piece, heading the ball with time and space afforded by Loyd’s poor marking.

This match featured both frustrating and encouraging signs for FC Dallas.

Injuries and inconsistent play along the backline cost Dallas for the second week in a row. Last week’s misery was brought on by Brek Shea’s silly straight red card; this week’s by Zach Loyd’s abysmal defending. We’ve seen much better than this from Loyd, but Ugo Ihemelu’s absence brought the pain. The difference in the match was clearly along the two teams back lines: Dallas’s shaky and suspect; San Jose’s healthy and familiar. Additionally, Dallas’ inability to finish chances cost them dearly, most notably Milton Rodriguez’ failure on a one-on-one with ‘Quakes keeper Jon Busch at the 60 minute mark.

On the encouraging side, FC Dallas designated player and 18 year-old wonderkid Fabian Castillo made his debut and an immediate impact in the match, taking on defenders and turning them this way and that. The sheer athleticism displayed at left flank should send a clear message to Brek Shea: you now have competition at your preferred position.

Another positive was the emergence of the gritty, give-it-all team from a year ago, a far cry from the team that stepped on the field the first 45 minutes. It’s too bad Dallas allowed the early goals. This should have been a winnable match. Dallas’ punishment was to have to try to break down a boring, packed-in San Jose defense for the rest of the match. They still created chances and were unfortunate to not have received the dividends of their labors.

The MLS season is a long one, and two matches is not yet enough time to evaluate where this team could finish. But injuries and uninspired play are always cause for alarm. Dallas will go into their match with MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids Columbus Crew still searching for their first win, but with major defensive questions looming. Dallas could use a win; a tie or a loss would surely mean Dallas would simply add to the pressure of overcoming a lackluster start.

Still, there is no reason to suspect this team is in any kind of disarray. And in MLS, ending strong is much more important than starting strong. But if Dallas doesn’t start earning points soon, the going will be just that much tougher.

Schellas Hyndman post game comments.
Scoring Summary:
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 1 (Chris Leitch 1) 5
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 2 (Joey Gjertsen 1, Chris Leitch 2) 23

Misconduct Summary:


San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales (Brad Ring 89), Joey Gjertsen (Ellis McLoughlin 73), Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins (Ike Opara 83), Bobby Convey, Chris Wondolowski, Ryan Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Bobby Burling, Matt Luzunaris, Andrew Weber.

FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, George John, Jackson (Ruben Luna 74), Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander (Eric Avila 62), Daniel Hernandez, Ricardo Villar (Fabian Castillo 57), Milton Rodriguez, David Ferreira.
Substitutes Not Used: Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Jacobson, Bobby Warshaw, Chris Seitz.

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Peter Manikowski; Mike Kampmeinert
4th Official: Armando Villarreal

Attendance: 11,022
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 68 degrees

Daniel Hernandez post game comments.