Match Grades: FC Dallas v Seattle
The big storyline was going to be how the team dealt with George John's absence and Zack Loyd's move into that spot, as it seemed that's the teams future, but it turned into something far more worrisome as Loyd was lost early to a hamstring injury and Jeremy Hall was called into very early duty.
Seattle did little to test the back line after they took the lead and spent more time working to deconstruct any Dallas attack - something they did particularly well.
They were helped by Dallas' midfield combination of Hernanadez, Villar and Cruz who obviously are still learning to play together as there were moments of fine, silky play, but turnovers plagued the trio with Villar in particular struggling to find a connecting pass in the final third. It is interesting to consider the number of different combinations Hyndman has tried in these three spots over the course of the season. While Hernandez has been the one constant, the number of people that have filled in the other two is by my count, is at least eight, and somehow the team is still having a quality season.
The latest addition to that mix is Cruz, who looks to be intriguing and was terribly unlucky to have fallen victim of a yellow card that defies any application of the Laws of the Game. It wasn't the only odd call referee David Gantar made but it was the most affecting on the match. Gantar's decision to attempt to control the match by calling it tightly made his ejection of Cruz all the more confusing because of the number of times he had already called that same foul previously in the match the other way.
Brek Shea also had a tough match, and like many of his teammates, looked just a bit off and sluggish as the heat and number of matches must be taking their toll.
On a night looking for answers, what we got were just more questions. Leading the list is the status of Andrew Jacobson. Has he lost his spot, or is his hammy injury worse than thought? How long is Loyd out, and does that effect the front offices decision to sell John? Can Hyndman afford to rest Shea, Ugo and Hernandez who all look like they could use a nap? How does Castillo find a starting spot?
Dallas again, even down a man, impressed with their determination to score and it took stellar efforts from Seattle's Keller and Parke to keep Dallas from leveling the score.
The final third of the season will be fascinating to watch how Hyndman manages this team. He's largely been successful in navigating difficult waters, but three different competitions and the potential loss of his best defender may prove to be the question with an answer on one wants to hear.
Hartman: 6 - That's a shot we're used to see him saving, but that's a quality finish
Jackson: 6 - He is un-nerving at center back as his propensity to commit the bad foul is worrisome
Loyd: I - The ghost of George John's hamstring strikes
Ugo: 6 - Looked devastated to have lost that ball for the goal, but worked to get past it
Benitez: 4 - A very frustrating night fraught with turnovers and odd decision making
Shea: 4 - Seattle's Scott had a successful night defending Shea who never really got into the match
Chavez: 4 - Another that simply lost the ball too much in the final third
Hernandez: 5 - His free kick taking again has disappointed, and gone from a strength to a weakness for the team
Cruz: 5 - Surprising work rate considering he hasn't played in a while
Villar: 4 - Not the quality he had been of late, committed the most fouls of anyone and the most turnovers
Santos: 5 - Seattle worked hard to shut him down and keep passes from reaching him. While the worst of his three appearances, he still is proving to be exactly what Dallas needed from the lone striker position.
Hall: 6 - Give the kid credit. Sure he lost the ball a bit, but did get into the attack and all while just showing up the day prior.
Castillo: 7 - A wonderful spark and almost caught the team on fire