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Monday, September 26, 2011
Talking tactics: Houston Dynamo at FC Dallas

By Blake Owen

Saturday's evening's 1-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo, taken in context of a string of poor performances, must irk Schellas Hyndman to no end.  However, the overall performance, especially in regard to build-up play, should be seen in a positive light.

For much of the match, Dallas played what may well have been its most fluid soccer since the early summer.  Brek Shea and Jackson strung together a dazzling series of touches to create a scoring opportunity for the right winger (14th minute).  Maicon Santos, Jackson, and Ricardo Villar easily slipped through the Dynamo defense in the 21st, allowing Villar an unmarked shot.  And in the second half, Jackson, who often combined intelligently with substitute Marvin Chavez, continued to trouble goalkeeper Tally Hall.

The most encouraging aspect of these opportunities, particularly the first half chances, was how they were created from a variety of locations.  In fact, not only did Dallas create scoring chances from different areas, multiple players pulled the strings.  Eight players - Santos, Shea, Chavez, Jack Stewart, Andrew Jacobson, Ricardo Villar, Ugo Ihemelu, and Daniel Cruz - produced nine key passes (services that led to a shooting opportunity).  A couple of inches difference in the trajectory of a few shots, plus a less stellar day from the outstanding Hall, and the postgame talking point would be the resurgent Dallas attack.

But the great saves made by Hall, the woodwork's triple-irritating interference, and the lax defending on an 87th minute corner guaranteed the chatter would be on yet another disheartening loss.

Surprisingly, much of the defensive inadequacies came from captain Daniel Hernandez.  The normally hard-nosed and well-positioned captain tellingly didn't attempt a single tackle on the evening, an indication that he was rarely in a position to cover for his teammates.  He was often too far afield of his center backs, leaving plenty of space for Houston attackers to sneak into.  Brad Davis made the most of these opportunities.  The midfielder completed a number of passes in the area normally patrolled by Hernandez.

Going forward, Schellas Hyndman has to continue to believe in his system.  The unflappable Hernandez rarely performs at anything but the highest standard, and if the squad continues to produce such fluid attacking soccer, the shots are liable to start landing on the correct side of the post.

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