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.