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Sunday, June 19, 2011
Talking tactics: FC Dallas at Chivas USA

By Blake Owen

A week after dominating possession but losing, FC Dallas readily conceded the majority of possession to Chivas USA and still posted a convincing 2-1 victory.

FC
As has been Schellas Hyndman's custom, he opened the match with a 4-4-2.
Both squads rolled out a 4-4-2 to begin the match, and with each team pressing from the whistle, the opening 20 minutes were full of open, end-to-end soccer.  Brek Shea's 22nd minute goal changed that.  After Shea's strike, Schellas Hyndman switched his squad's shape to a 4-5-1.

Up to that point, Chivas was already dominating possession.  Hyndman's concern, following the opening goal, seemed to be to deny Chivas clear goal-scoring opportunities, rather than taking control of the ball.  And his strategy worked.  Chivas only put two shots on target the entire match.  Dallas, even though they only had 26% of possession, exploited swift counter-attacks to produce seven.

Much of their success could be attributed to Brek Shea.  Shea moved inside with regularity, often as Fabian Castillo moved to the left wing.  It was from such a position that he scored his first goal (courtesy of an outstanding pass from Andrew Jacobson).  In the 2nd half, Shea wasn't any less dangerous.  The winger earned three throw-ins deep in the Chivas half - including the throw-in that led to Jackson's winning goal - as well as a free kick that resulted in Daniel Hernandez forcing a save from Dan Kennedy.

FC Dallas
Following the first goal, Hyndman switched to a defensive 4-5-1, relying on the counter-attacking abilities of his wingers.
And Shea could have been even more dangerous.  Hyndman, whether the formation is 4-4-2 or 4-5-1/4-1-3-1-1, prefers to use natural wingers, rather than inverted ones.  Placing a winger on his natural side ensures that he can exploit his stronger foot to make crosses.  But when wingers are inverted, ie a lefty playing on the right flank, they're able to drift inside and unleash their dominant foot for a shot on goal.

The use of inverted wingers has been one of the key facets of recent tactical trends.  Barcelona, Real Madrid, Fulham, Bayern Munich, and Arsenal are just a few of the teams that have employed inverted wingers.  Of course, wingers don't exist in isolation.  They have to work with their forwards.

Teams with natural wingers tend to station a large target forward in the box.  When a side uses inverted wingers, they tend to have either a lone forward (often playing as a false-nine) or at least one forward who drops into the midfield.  Since Dallas' forwards drift outside so often, it would make perfect sense to use Shea and Eric Alexander on their 'wrong' flank.  If Hyndman utilized this tactic, perhaps FC Dallas fans would be treated to even more Shea goals.

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