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Monday, June 27, 2011
Match grades: Portland vs. FC Dallas

By Peter Welpton

Just a quick thought on Mexico's complete 4-2 victory:

The reality is that in the long-running stretch of victories over Mexico, the U.S. won mostly via effort, teamwork and heart. The USA was never going to out-skill the Mexicans. But this new squad from Mexico now, at the very least, matches the U.S. in terms of effort, teamwork and heart to go along with their superior skill.

The pendulum has swung back.

FC Dallas on the other hand continues to churn out points despite losing key players. Playing its first match without Fabian Castillo, Schellas Hyndman simply moved his remaining bits into yet another formation, and crushed the Timbers 4-0. It might not be a stretch to say that if you squinted, Dallas almost played more like the team did with  Ferreira on the field in the 4-1-4-1 formation. Against Portland, the team was placed in a 4-2-3-1 with Hernandez and Jacobson in a dual holding midfield role and Alexander, Shea and Jackson asked to cover a lot of ground and get into the attack.

It took the better part of 15 minutes for FCD to find its way around the new formation, but once there, there was little question as to which team was going to win. There was far less direct play on Dallas' part, more interactive possession and a significant increase in dangerous opportunities in the box.

Not having Castillo on the pitch is almost addition by subtraction because when he's paired with Chavez up top, there simply is no reason to even try to possess and build up attacking play. With Chavez alone up there, and more support in the middle, the team got more movement into the box and patient play in getting there.

If Dallas consistently can get performances from wide positions as it did from Shea and Jackson, it will be a wonderfully tough side to beat.

Once again, in the face of personnel losses Hyndman successfully made tactical and formation changes. Dallas gets to really put itself to a stern test as the Crew come to town and have matched FCD for points in the last five matches (10).

Grades:

Hartman: 6 -- Not really under much pressure but got lucky on a couple of poorly played set pieces.

Loyd: 8 -- Great goal and worked well with Jackson.

George: 8 -- Storming header and yet another lock-down defending performance.

Ugo: 6 -- More poor passing than normal, battled well with Cooper.

Benitez: 6 -- Improved from recent play, still looks to be favoring that knee.

Shea: 8 -- Swimming in confidence, how can you not with a bobblehead?

Jackson: 8 -- Best night in a hooped jersey. Very, very unlucky to not have scored.

Hernandez: 7 -- Why hasn't he been taking corners all along?

Jacobson: 5 -- His passing struggled as he was asked to sit back more.

Alexander: 7 -- A quietly effective night. If only he could turn his intensity up just a notch.

Chavez: 6 -- I've realized that if he had a sliver of creativity to go with all that speed and effort, he wouldn't be plying his trade in MLS. What he's doing for Hyndman is worth its weight in lost attacking opportunities

Subs:

Warshaw: 6 -- Good, solid substitution.

Avila: 6 -- He really adds a spark late in a match.

Luna: 6 -- The league says he scored … just buy Jackson dinner.

Match Grade: (B) -- Temperatures, U.S./Mexico and the closure of the tollway made it easy to not show up for one of those mid-season MLS matches. But Dallas threw out an entertaining performance.