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Sunday, June 5, 2011
Talking tactics: New England Revolution at FC Dallas

By Blake Owen

Well that was a welcome change.  In last night's 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution, FC Dallas returned to a possession-based attack.  The Hoops played their most fluid offense since David Ferreira's injury, but an uninspired New England had just as much to do with the end result.

Stats tell the story

Some sports fans moan about how a soccer match's final scoreline can belie the game's ebb and flow.  And they're right.  A 1-0 victory is just as likely to be a result for the underdogs as it is for the favorites.

Looking beyond the scoreline, however, can easily reveal the 'feel' of a particular game.  Against New England, the stats show Dallas was dominant.  They held 60% of possession, completed 158 more passes, placed 6 more shots on target, and completed 13% more of their passes (81% to 68%).  It was a masterclass performance.

Praise - or blame - for the statistical disparities can be placed at the feet of both teams.  New England used a very defensive 4-5-1, often sitting nine men behind the ball.  Dallas then had plenty of space to work the ball upfield.  The Revolution rarely pressed until the Hoops were within 15 yards of the penalty area.

Add in a Dallas side that pressed high up the pitch, and you had a recipe for one side to control possession.  Unfortunately, Dallas was unable to turn their control into goals, mostly due to poor finishing.  In the first half, Brek Shea, Fabian Castillo, Marvin Chavez, and Eric Alexander each produced heavy touches in the box when a more deft effort would have led to a goal.

Outstanding goalkeeping

Despite Dallas' heavy touches in the box, the Hoops would have been up early if not for the stellar play of goalkeeper Matt Reis.  Not only did he make 7 saves, he routinely cut off dangerous crosses, perhaps the most difficult task for a keeper to master.

But one shaky moment from Reis handed Dallas 3 points.  In the 68th, a simple punt forward to Chavez placed the attacker in a one-on-one with center back AJ Soares.  The Honduran flitted by the defender and streaked into the box.  Reis, for some reason, leaned away from his near post, allowing Chavez to slip the ball into the net.

Schellas Hyndman will certainly take the result, though it wouldn't be a surprise if he forces his team to participate in a series of finishing drills before next Sunday's match against Sporting Kansas City.

Blake Owen is the editor and publisher of futbolforgringos.com.