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Monday, March 28, 2011
Red Pen & Gold Stars: San Jose Earthquakes vs FC Dallas

By Peter Welpton

Hopefully FC Dallas faithful won't go into full panic after Saturday's 2-0 loss to San Jose's Earthquakes. Dallas' need to further modify the back line, via a move of Zach Loyd to centerback, was quickly exposed with Wondolowski's first of two goals.

It should be noted that a fair share of blame should also go to the midfield's lack of attention paid to Chris Leitch who was allowed to tromp deep into FCD territory from mid-field. Leitch literally covered 20+ yards before completing a perfect chip pass to the box without a FCD player anywhere near him.

There was a general sense of malaise for Dallas' first half performance as opponents continue to find new and expected ways to shut down Ferreira. This combined with the shuffling lineup in the back, new additions to the midfield all have added up to Dallas' inability to move the ball fast enough and lack of confidence to mix up from where the attack comes.

In his post match conference Hyndman explained that there was a tactical decision to stretch the defense and get behind San Jose. Not only was this largely ineffective (as Dallas' long passing was very off) but it also was a singular focus that the Earthquakes was prepared to deal with.

This is the 2nd match in a row where there has been a lack of build up either through the middle, or from deep and wide in the attacking third where crosses or run from the end line create such danger. Dallas has mostly limited itself to crossed balls from shallow midfield spots. Trying to dump behind, or finding diagonal runs along the back line but neither have found much success in weeks one or two.

Again, Hyndman stated that this was an intended tatic, but certainly he knows that missing that probing, attacking mentality that Brek Shea gave him from the left last year is a large part of the team's attacking woes. This was proven out with the introduction of Castillo who immediately began to take on defenders and showed that he can easily find his own path behind the backline even if he already has the ball at his feet.

San Jose's gaffer, Frank Yallop was grateful that his side left Frisco with three points. He knows that in the 2nd half Dallas was a far more dangerous team and it was one of those nights were nothing goes in. Dallas' problem is that they didn't achieve a single 'shot on goal' until the 55th minute.

Yeah, that was an attacking crazy, possession and opportunity filled final 35 minutes, but FC Dallas was unable to capitalize on any of it. San Jose did exactly that with their first two, and they only had a total of four (compared to Dallas' 19).

Very tough match in Columbus against a struggling Crew on Friday night.

Grades: (5 is an average performance, 10 is a world-class mindbender. Please note in my system, each player is held to a different standard based on their experience, position and expectation. ie: a Luna grade of "5" is likely different that a Milton grade of "5".)

Hartman: 6 - Can't really be faulted for either goal, but wasn't really required to do much after that

Jackson: 4 - Really not himself (for whatever reason) and perception is he had a high number of turnovers

Loyd: 3 - Bad positioning for both goals

John: 4 - Not as culpable as Zack, but not his best night either

Benitez: 6 - Good to see him return

Chavez: 4 - Another player who's touch failed him at in-opportune times

Villar: 4 - Ineffective at making the case Brek isn't needed back in this spot

Hernandez: 5 - A quiet, average night

Alexander: 4 - Not much of this is Eric's fault, but needs to find ways to effect match more to get everyone to forget Dax

Ferreira: 4 - Really struggling to find space, so much so he's wandering into extreme positions throughout the match which is taking him out of it.

Milton: 3 - A very poor night for Milton. Just a night that never fell his way, and two clear chances FCD counts on him converting, he failed.

SUBS:

Castillo: 8 - An electric display of speed and skill. How hard is it to get him meshed into the squad? Also showed some thoughtful play and not singular minded.

Avila: 6 - Turned up the attacking play, but also some forced passes were turnovers that should have easily given to closer, safer options

Luna: 5 - Created a free kick by engaging a defender, but another night where Ruben steps into a match where he can't make too much difference

Ed note: Grades are for entertainment purposes only. Do not take them to heart, personally or otherwise. If you don’t like the grades may we suggest instead of only calling the author names and bein’ an anonymous meanie, how about you put your grades and explanation in the comment section below. After doing that, then you can then call the author names and remain anonymous, you just won’t be a meanie. Discourse is good for the soul.