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Monday, June 13, 2011
Talking tactics: Sporting KC at FC Dallas

By Blake Owen

A day after the United States' shocking loss to Panama in the Gold Cup, FC Dallas posted a shocker of their own, falling to a previously out of form Sporting Kansas City.  Dallas had given up only 4 goals in their last 8 games.  Sunday evening at Pizza Hut Park they conceded 4 goals in 78 minutes.  Lax Dallas defending, and stellar Kansas City finishing, handed KC their first victory since the season's opening weekend.

Much like Saturday's Gold Cup encounter, the underdogs determined the game's tactical ebb and flow.  Both Panama and Kansas City employed a bait-and-switch strategy, sitting very deep before countering at speed.  Kansas City couldn't have used their 4-4-1-1 to greater effect.  The visitors' defensive solidarity was more than a match for the Dallas 4-4-2.

They rarely allowed Dallas a clean look on goal, and from the get-go they were the more clinical team in the final third.  Graham Zusi's 28th minute goal was well-deserved.  His excellent run (off a KC counter) and booming shot were but a foretaste of the quality he would bring to the match.

Brek Shea provided a moment of life in the 38th when his slaloming run through four defenders drew the Hoops level.  Despite Dallas' edge in possession (65% to 35%) Shea's goal came against the run of play.  Most Dallas attacks sputtered out on the edge of the box.

Kansas City attempted 210 less passes yet created 5 more shots on goal.  Dallas didn't do themselves any favors with their awkward defending in the box.  Andrew Jacobson was victimized on the second and fourth goals, getting outmuscled by Aurellien Collin on the former and failing to track Luke Sassano on the latter.

Zusi's 55th minute strike, however, came about solely through Zusi's gilt-edged touch.  Kevin Hartman had drifted slightly off his line, but since Zusi's free kick from just outside the center circle seemed to graze the underside of the bar, it's unlikely even a perfectly positioned Hartman could have stopped the blast.

Schellas Hyndman attempted to add extra bite to his squad's final third threat by changing to a 3-4-3 after using all of his substitutes.  But shortly after the switch, Jacobson let Sassano sprint into the box for the demoralizing fourth goal.  Given FC Dallas' recent run of nine games unbeaten, Hyndman won't feel a need to make wholesale changes before next week's encounter with Chivas USA.  He will, however, hope to forget this game as soon as possible.

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