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.
CLB – Andres Mendoza (Penalty Kick) 54
CLB – Eddie Gaven (Robbie Rogers) 91+
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
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.