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Monday, July 18, 2011
Talking tactics: DC United at FC Dallas

By Blake Owen

Formation
The starting XI.
When these two teams last met, Schellas Hyndman and FC Dallas were still seeking a way to replace David Ferreira.  While Dallas has clearly found a way to succeed without Ferreira, they still haven't figured out how to break down the United defense, once more drawing 0-0 with Ben Olsen's squad.

As has been Hyndman's custom since Fabian Castillo left for international duty, the Dallas manager employed a 4-2-3-1.  An injury to Andrew Jacobson gave extended playing time to Ricardo Villar, with Eric Alexander dropping alongside Daniel Hernandez.  Villar produced a few moments of inspiration but his performance was for the most part unremarkable.  He completed just 50% of his passes.

Villar's middling day exemplified the Dallas attack, with the United front four doing their part to disrupt Dallas' offense.  They rarely managed to intercept passes, but they didn't allow the center backs to make easy outlet passes.  George John and Ugo Ihemelu were forced to attempt 110 passes, 22% of Dallas' total.  In contrast, during the most recent Dallas league victory, John and Ihemelu attempted 71 passes (17%).

Shots
Dallas took far too many shots from outside the box, neglecting to attempt to penetrate the backline with cutting through-balls.
Besides being unable to generate an offensive flow from the back, Dallas also settled for too many shots from distance.  As the chalkboard to the right shows, the home side only managed to create two shots inside the box.  By pulling the trigger from distance, the Red Stripes were doing exactly what United manager Olsen wanted.

Olsen's  4-4-2 uses a diamond midfield instead of a flat line.  When Dallas pushed forward on counters, there was often just one midfielder (Clyde Simms) in the middle of the pitch.  There was plenty of space to unleash long shots, but more patient build-up play could have led to better opportunities.

Perhaps the hurried shots were why Hyndman changed to a 4-4-2 in the 61st.  Center midfielder Bruno Guarda entered for Villar and Alexander moved wide (Jackson joined Castillo up top).  However, the switch produced few results.  Dallas created 1 shot inside the box using a 4-2-3-1 and 1 shot inside the box using a 4-4-2.  While the United defense deserves full credit for not making any glaring mistakes, Hyndman will surely view this match as a failure to grab 3 points.

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