Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Soccer [Print without images]

Wednesday, February 22, 2012
U.S. U-23 team beats FCD in eventful game

By Todd Date

FC Dallas’ final tune-up before heading to Orlando, Fla., later this week came on Wednesday morning against the United States’ Under-23 team.  FCD fell 2-1 to an opponent who finished the game with just nine players.

And it was none other than Brek Shea who scored the winning goal for the U-23s, banging one in after a solid cross from Freddy Adu just six minutes into the final frame.  However, by the 75th minute, Shea was gone after receiving his second yellow of the game.

His ejection came some 17 minutes after U.S. teammate Kofi Sarkodie was sent off with a second yellow, albeit a questionable one after a tackle on a FCD speedster just outside the Dallas box.

Andrew Jacobson had the lone goal of the day for Dallas and it came 15 minutes in, just four minutes before the U.S. drew it level thanks to a header by ex-Wake Forest standout Ike Opara. Then, there was an Adu PK attempt in the 36th minute that Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman stopped.

But overall, it was a solid game where the FCD starters, including David Ferreira, who was seeing his first action of the preseason, played significant minutes. Still, considering they played the final 15 minutes with a two-man advantage, it was a bit disconcerting that Dallas didn’t at least draw things level, their best chance to do so being a Blas Perez free kick five minutes from full time that struck the right post.

So, it’s understandable that the gaffer wasn’t too pleased about today’s loss after it was in the books.

“I don’t know if I’m more hurt by the fact that we lost or the fact that we didn’t score being up two men. Basically, they really couldn’t do anything,” Hyndman said. “We had them pretty much locked in and I thought either the last pass wasn’t good enough or the service wasn’t good enough or the finish wasn’t good enough.”

However, seeing Ferreira back on the pitch, albeit for just 22 minutes, was a huge positive for FCD. The highlight of his first preseason action came when he delivered a solid long ball perfectly to the feet of Castillo on the right side.

“We had planned play him 10-15 minutes and then he wanted to go back in the second half. So I think we gave him another 10 minutes in the second half. I think you probably saw the same thing I saw, once he got on the field there seemed to be a little bit of possession in the game,” Hyndman said. “There was a little bit of purpose in the game and we got away from just trying to break them down with one pass, a through ball, a long ball or an individual play.”

And for Dallas supporters who follow this team closely and were in attendance for this morning’s scrimmage, it was a bit weird to see Shea squaring off with FCD starting right back Zach Loyd as enemies instead of teammates as they normally are.

“Yeah, they’re both head bangers. I thought they both had some good battles. Surprised that they were going at each other as hard as they did considering they’re teammates. But again, they both want to compete,” Hyndman said.

Observations from Today’s Scrimmage

- Blas Perez absolutely blistered the free kick he took in the 85th minute, raising the possibility that FCD’s set piece issues from 2011 could be a thing of the past.

- There were some flashes from David Ferreira today, but he is still a long way from returning to his 2010 MVP form, if he even does at all.

- Hyndman is legitimately concerned about the health of his central midfield of Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson going into the season, especially should he choose to go with a 4-4-2 formation going forward.

- Left mid could be a sore spot for FCD this year, especially if Brek Shea is gone for Olympic qualifying as well as for the Olympics and several World Cup qualifiers. Some feel newcomer Carlos Rodriguez is a viable option there, but when Hyndman says he’s not an attacking player as he has said about Rodriguez, why would you put him in a spot where he’s destined to fail?

- The ideal situation at center back would obviously be for George John to return from his loan to West Ham United and renew his solid partnership with Ugo Ihemelu. There is an obvious language barrier between Ihemelu and Colombian newcomer Hernan Pertuz, something that clearly concerns Hyndman.

- Today was the start of FCD facing tougher competition, which leads one to wonder if today’s loss is indicative of similar outcomes in Florida or if today was more of a mere aberration?