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Saturday, April 9, 2011
Match Grades: Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas

By Peter Welpton

Schellas Hyndman deservedly had his chest puffed up a little after his side's dominating 3-0 win Friday night. The fact that it came against the team that so cruelly beat him on that cold and windy Canandian night almost seemed unimportant to the prideful man.

In reality it could have comes against "FC BeerChugger", Dallas just needed a win and three points to keep up with what will be a stuffy standings come this Fall.

Dallas wholly dominated the Rapids who looked nothing like the sharp, aggressive team that was off to its best ever start. Undefeated, most goal scored, only a couple allowed - yes, all of that was achieved by lessor MLS sides (Portland, Chivas and DCU) - but Dallas was a different challenge and Colorado either could not handle it, or as it looked, were not mentally into playing the match.

The Rapids with three changes lost a lot of their "mean" with Mastrioni and Casey unavailable. With the former, there was one less nightmare for Ferreira and the latter, well, Cummings and Forlan are teddy bears compared to the brutal Connor. In fact after giving George John some arm meat across the face Forlan was apologetic and diplomatic in trying to explain he didn't mean to. That's possibly the act of a traitor in Connor's book.

Back to Ferreira who was able to find all sorts of new territory without getting clubbed each time he found the ball. Some of that remained and Jeff Larwinowitz didn't let a full 90 pass without taking his pound of David-Ankle-Flesh late in the match. For the first time in 2011 Ferreira was able to do make his magic, although on this night it was a little less about making passes as it was making runs into the box and finishing what he received.

The cause of this can be chalked up to Colorado's passive performance and to the insertion of Andrew Jacobson who had a solid, quiet performance. Jacobson received praise from his coach who felt, "AJ was that linking player we've been missing". Certainly the combo of Jacobson and Hernandez was of a quality that allowed Ferreria to drift upfield and sit more between the Rapids midfield and backline, and it was very effective.

Another key was the danger of Fabio Castillo who continues thrill FCD fans with a level of skill, speed and soccer maturity that belies his age. The first goal came from a corner created by a slicing run and shot, and the 2nd came from his toying with Kamura who had to play off of him for real fear that the Columbian would blow past him. With the slightest of steps Fabio created the perfect lane for his perfect through ball (which David finished with such class). Oh, and Fabio's move to the end line, past his mark, is cartoony fast.

Dallas' backline was stellar and kept the Rapids from anything of real danger all night. MLS newcomer, Forlan, who looked so dangerous against DC was rendered moot and Cummings never was able to find time or space to use his tools to any effect. Brek Shea's debut at left back was interesting but his top notch ability to spray full field crosses to the opposite side midfielder is really sight to behold. You very rarely see that quality of a rope-like pass in MLS from that position, with that distance and accuracy. Does that mean Brek is the new starting left back? Not sure about that as Benitez's is one of the league's better, but it was a successful performance nonetheless.

Dallas now gets to take this performance to the confines of Portland where surely an amazing atmosphere and one Kenny Cooper Jr awaits.

Grades:

Hartman: 8 - That kit looks like it was dipped in the ocean waters next to the Fukushima nuclear plant, and Kevin played well too.

Loyd: 7 - Yes, Zack does so much well, but he also still overplays certain situations that take him off his mark, or gets caught too far forward.

John: 8 - A fantastic night. He was aggressive, passed well, won balls and actually was spotted intimidating someone.

Ugo: 8 - A major improvement from last week, but he also played in his better spot. He and John together are FCD's best option. Nice defender's volley too boot.

Shea: 7 - The idea of Brek being the one that attacks from deep and wide is really intriguing. He still, understandably, defaults to an attacker's style of defending, but on the whole a good night.

Chavez: I - Ouch.

Jacobson: 7 - While he's listed as only an inch taller, he appears significantly larger than Alexandar and that size is a nice addition to the midfield.

Hernandez: 9 - MOTM. After several comments about teammates stepping up, Daniel did just that with one of his finest performances for Dallas. No he didn't score, but was fast with his passing, relentless in his defending and vocal in his leading.

Castillo: 8 - A wickedly wonderful addition to the squad.

Ferreira: 9 - Two great runs, two great goals, one great night.

Milton: 6 - Work allowed others to flourish, but still needs to make more of his own opportunities

SUBS:

Avila: 7 - Fantastic run and pass for the goal, but still holds the ball way too long in really inopportune places on the field.

Luna: 5 - The game had largely flatlined by the time he entered

Alexandar: n/a

Match Grade: B+ - After the shockingly fast third goal the game quickly lost its verve as the Rapids rolled over and Dallas worked on holding the shutout.