Dallas Soccer: Graham Zusi

Ricardo Villar scored early and Kevin Hartman notched seven saves, including one on a Kei Kamara penalty kick, but Sporting KC found a late goal for a 2-1 win over visiting FC Dallas here Sunday night.

Blas Perez was tripped up just outside the 18-yard box, earning the visiting Dallas side a dangerous free kick. Villar knocked the chance high over the wall and to the far right of Jimmy Nielsen for a 1-0 Dallas lead in the 25th minute.

Down a goal, Sporting KC continued to push. With extra time ticking down in the first half, Roger Espinoza was tripped up in the Kansas City attacking third. On the free kick, Zusi picked 6’2” center back Aurelien Collin out in the crowd and the French international flicked the header over an on-rushing Hartman for the game-tying goal.

The second half saw an almost immediate chance for Sporting KC to take the lead when Chance Myers earned a penalty kick in the 50th minute. Kamara stepped to the spot, but Hartman was a step ahead of him, making the 14th PK stop of his MLS career.

With Ricardo Villar out after a collision with Myers, FC Dallas saw the majority of second half chances go to the home side. Hernan Pertuz had a chance to put Dallas ahead in the 86th minute, but his shot sailed high. Two minutes later, Myers crossed to Kamara for the game winner.

The loss drops FC Dallas to 1-1-1 (4 points) on the season, while Sporting KC improved to 3-0-0 (9 points). Dallas is on the road again Friday at DC United, kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT.

Scoring Summary:
DAL – Ricardo Villar 25
SKC – Aurelien Collin (Graham Zusi) 45+
SKC – Kei Kamara (Chance Myers, Zusi) 88

FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, Hernan Pertuz, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Bryan Leyva (Andrew Wiedeman 70), Ricardo Villar (Bobby Warshaw 46, Luis Perea 90), Daniel Hernandez, Andrew Jacobson, Jair Benitez, Blas Perez.

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Matt Hedges, Bruno Guarda, Alex Lee.

TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Ricardo Villar 2);
SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Ricardo Villar 1);
FOULS: 11 (Four players with two);
CORNER KICKS: 5 (Daniel Hernandez 3);
SAVES: 7 (Kevin Hartman 7)

Sporting KC – Jimmy Nielsen, Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Chance Myers, Kei Kamara, Graham Zusi (Lawrence Olum 91), Roger Espinoza, Julio Cesar, Bobby Convey (Jacob Peterson 93), C.J. Sapong.

Substitutes Not Used: Jon Kempin, Dom Dwyer, Michael Harrington, Paula Nagamura, Luke Sassano.

TOTAL SHOTS: 18 (Kei Kamara 11);
SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Kei Kamara 5);
FOULS: 15 (Chance Myers 4);
OFFSIDES: 1 (Graham Zusi 1);
CORNER KICKS: 7 (Graham Zusi 5);

Misconduct Summary:
SKC - Aurelien Collin (caution; Foul) 32
SKC – Chance Myers (caution; Foul) 36
DAL – Daniel Hernandez (caution; Dissent) 45+
SKC – Roger Espinoza (caution; Time Wasting) 90+

Referee: Abiodun Okulaja
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson, Peter Balciunas
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 2:03
Attendance: 15,161
Weather: Sunny and 68 degrees

Familiarity with venue, teammates big pluses for Jeremy Hall

August, 23, 2011
Sometimes a player is caught off guard when learning they've been traded. But that wasn’t the case for Jeremy Hall, a versatile 22-year-old defender/midfielder that FC Dallas acquired from Portland on Friday afternoon for Eric Alexander.

Hall, who is in his third year in MLS after being the ninth overall pick in the 2009 MLS Super Draft by the Red Bulls, had been hearing rumors that his days with the Timbers were numbered and FCD was one of the clubs rumored to be interested in bringing him in, but as Tom Petty once so eloquently put it, the waiting was the hardest part.

“No, that was the team that I was hearing [the most about],” he said by phone on Monday. “I think that was the only one that I knew about. For a while, I went back and forth with my coach and my agent. There was hearsay. It was kind of hectic for me playing wise. I was all over the place. Now that everything’s done, I’m happy about that. I can just play and not have to worry about any of that stuff.”

With John Spencer’s club, he had played in 17 games but admits that towards the end of his time there, it was difficult for him to focus due to all the speculation surrounding him.

“Yeah, it was definitely tough. In the off-season, getting traded to Portland, I was definitely very excited about it. A great soccer city with great fan support, great coaches over there and I was reunited with Rodney [Wallace], who was a close college buddy of mine,” Hall said. “It’s just an awesome spot. I got comfortable in Portland and liked it a lot. Just the past month, hearing about everything was crazy with playing, not playing and getting suspended with cards. For it to finally go through and to finally be here, it’s a huge load off my shoulders.”

So, now Hall comes to Frisco with a clean slate with a new club and, not surprisingly, the move has been a refreshing one for the Maryland product.

“I just want to go out, play and not have to worry about all that stuff. I’m excited to be here. We’ve got a lot of games coming up,” Hall said. “They’ve done well so far in the league, done well in Champions League as well. We’ve got an Open Cup game in Seattle coming up, I’m lucky to be here.”

And while he left one former college teammate behind in Rodney Wallace, he joins another former Terp already with FCD in backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz.

“It’s awesome. In college, everybody was close on that team,” Hall said. “I was real close with Seitz. He left after my freshman year. He’s a great goalkeeper. I still talked to him when he was in the league through texts and what not. Every time we ran into each other while we played, we caught up and talked. Everybody has school pride. We believe that Maryland is the best school in the country. To be with another Terp is something special. We’re all over the league. It’s great to have Seitz here.”

However, Seitz isn’t the only one of his new teammates he already knew before arriving in the Lone Star State on Friday night. He also knew several other members of the Dallas roster after playing with them on the 2010 Generation adidas tour through Spain, a group which was coached by FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman.

“I knew a lot of guys before I got here-Brek [Shea], Bruno [Guarda], Andrew Wiedeman and Seitz, who I played with, a bunch of great guys,” Hall said. “It’s a great group of guys in the locker room, guys I’ve played with and guys I’ve played against. So I’m familiar with a lot of guys here and the coaching staff as well. I got to meet them on the GA [Generation adidas] trip to Madrid. So, it’s a very comfortable place for me.”

He was also part of the Terrapins’ 2008 NCAA championship team that won the title in of all places, at Pizza Hut Park and Jeremy still has fond memories of the venue from three years ago.

“Yeah, it was awesome. My college years were something very special, a great group of guys. I still talk to a lot of them. To have that Final Four, to be part of that with two crazy games [was memorable],” he recalled. [Graham] Zusi hit the free kick winner against St. John’s and scored again vs. North Carolina in the finals. It was awesome. This place is very special for a lot of people who went to Maryland. To be a part of it, of FC Dallas and to now call it home is very special.”

Current Dallas defender Zach Loyd also played in that ’08 final but was on the short end of things for runner-up North Carolina. Hall has yet to rib his new teammate about that game but plans to do so in the near future.

“No, I haven’t yet but I definitely will talk about that with him. Zach’s a great player. I played against him since my freshman year in college. We actually went against each other since I played in the midfield in school and he played in the back,” he said. “He’s a hard competitor and a tough player to play against. He works hard for the whole game. He’s strong, athletic and he works you hard. I’m glad I’m on his team and don’t have to play against him anymore.”

Speaking of Loyd, it’s almost ironic that Jeremy’s Dallas debut came as a substitute for his new teammate when he pulled a hammy in the 24th minute of Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Seattle.

“I wasn’t really expecting to play, much less as many minutes as I did, but Zach [Loyd] went down with a hamstring injury. I started warming up, my number was called and I just kind of got in there,” Hall said.

His first 66 minutes of action with FCD were pretty taxing with temperatures during much of Saturday’s game being well over 100 degrees. Acclimating himself to the Texas heat is now a top priority for this new addition.

“The heat’s obviously a factor. I can definitely say that I was a little tired in the game towards the end Saturday night. I hadn’t trained in four days and had the flight on Friday night,” Hall said. “So my body was definitely a little bit tired. I definitely have to get my fitness level up. We have a lot of games. I think with the games and the training, I’ll definitely be able to get my fitness level up. The heat, I can just get adjusted to that with the training here. I’m definitely not looking to make excuses. I just want to get some games in, train hard and get my fitness levels up.”
And with the prognosis for Loyd unknown as well as the potential departure of center back George John to England, one big question on the minds of Dallas supporters is where would this ex-Terrapin fit the best and provide the most benefit to his new club. Well, that all depends on a number of factors.

“I’ve played everywhere but since I’ve been in the league, I’ve played mostly in the back. [I’ve played] right back a lot, a little bit of left back and center back on a couple of trips. I’m comfortable playing anywhere pretty much,” Hall said. “Since I’ve played a lot of right back and left back in the league, I’d say I’m most comfortable in a league sense playing there but I have no problem playing in the midfield. I played the first some odd games there in Portland and did well. Anywhere the team needs me, that’s where I’m capable of playing.”

Talking tactics: Sporting KC at FC Dallas

June, 13, 2011
A day after the United States' shocking loss to Panama in the Gold Cup, FC Dallas posted a shocker of their own, falling to a previously out of form Sporting Kansas City. Dallas had given up only 4 goals in their last 8 games. Sunday evening at Pizza Hut Park they conceded 4 goals in 78 minutes. Lax Dallas defending, and stellar Kansas City finishing, handed KC their first victory since the season's opening weekend.

Much like Saturday's Gold Cup encounter, the underdogs determined the game's tactical ebb and flow. Both Panama and Kansas City employed a bait-and-switch strategy, sitting very deep before countering at speed. Kansas City couldn't have used their 4-4-1-1 to greater effect. The visitors' defensive solidarity was more than a match for the Dallas 4-4-2.

They rarely allowed Dallas a clean look on goal, and from the get-go they were the more clinical team in the final third. Graham Zusi's 28th minute goal was well-deserved. His excellent run (off a KC counter) and booming shot were but a foretaste of the quality he would bring to the match.

Brek Shea provided a moment of life in the 38th when his slaloming run through four defenders drew the Hoops level. Despite Dallas' edge in possession (65% to 35%) Shea's goal came against the run of play. Most Dallas attacks sputtered out on the edge of the box.

Kansas City attempted 210 less passes yet created 5 more shots on goal. Dallas didn't do themselves any favors with their awkward defending in the box. Andrew Jacobson was victimized on the second and fourth goals, getting outmuscled by Aurellien Collin on the former and failing to track Luke Sassano on the latter.

Zusi's 55th minute strike, however, came about solely through Zusi's gilt-edged touch. Kevin Hartman had drifted slightly off his line, but since Zusi's free kick from just outside the center circle seemed to graze the underside of the bar, it's unlikely even a perfectly positioned Hartman could have stopped the blast.

Schellas Hyndman attempted to add extra bite to his squad's final third threat by changing to a 3-4-3 after using all of his substitutes. But shortly after the switch, Jacobson let Sassano sprint into the box for the demoralizing fourth goal. Given FC Dallas' recent run of nine games unbeaten, Hyndman won't feel a need to make wholesale changes before next week's encounter with Chivas USA. He will, however, hope to forget this game as soon as possible.

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

FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman

I was very disappointed in the performance. Give credit to Kansas City. They’re a team that’s desperate. They haven’t been able to get a lot of good results this year. They came in here with missing players and they came in here and really frustrated us. They were in a 4-5-1 system and we couldn’t break it down. I’m disappointed that we didn’t create a lot of scoring chances. We were always back on our heels with their counters. There were a lot of misconnections in our passing. They wanted the game more than us and I can’t say that has occurred very often here. For us, this is an opportunity to re-group and find out a little bit more about ourselves. In sports sometimes you have players who are off. I thought we had too many players who were off. We didn’t have enough people that looked like they were playing in the culture we have developed, the winning culture and the culture of fighting for the ball. As frustrating as that was for the coaches, I know the players were very frustrated as well.

On the third goal (free kick from distance) kind of sucking the wind out of the team…

It didn’t help us. I think even the second goal came so quick in the second half. As a team, we can’t have these types of performances. We’re a much better team than what we showed today. It’s an embarrassing moment for the coaches and the players.

On halftime substitutions…

One of the things we were struggling with was holding the ball up front. There was a lot of dribbling and a lot of individual players playing on an island and we didn’t get much done. The idea was having Milton [Rodriguez] who’s a little bit stronger in the box, can hold the ball a little bit better and then also getting Jackson on so we could attack from that right side.

Did the team look tired…

They looked very tired. They looked tired before the game started. It was just one of those days. You really can’t put anything on it. If they all went to the same restaurant, you could say it was the food. But, I think something was just missing and we really have to realize that we’re a much, much better team when we play together and we fight for every ball. That’s what’s given us the success up until now. Today, they just didn’t. They didn’t bring it.

FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman

It was a pretty poor representation of who we are as a group. It's unfortunate that we had to do it against a very motivated Kansas City team. It's one of those games you have to move on quickly from. Take your lessons from [it] and get on to the next game. I didn't think any of us really had a good enough game to make up for the amount of guys who were off [their games]. We knew going into the game that Kansas City was a better team than their record showed.

On long goal from Zusi…

I tried to keep our guys high so that it would maybe force them to play short. He hit it and the wind was going that direction so it picked up speed. I had started six or seven yards out and it got over me at some point. It was well struck.

On upcoming games…

Unfortunately we're less than a week from playing Chivas in L.A., which is another tough task, but at least we are going to be back out on the field.

FC Dallas midfielder Andrew Jacobson

In this league, it doesn't matter where one team is [in the standings]; everyone can compete, every game is pretty close. [Sporting Kansas City] wanted it more. They showed they wanted it more than us and they got the result for it.

On SKC formation change…

I don't think [the formation change] was why we lost. They just executed better than us, and deserve the three points.

On what he takes from the loss…

It's a good time to get a reminder of how much work you put into winning a game. Every game that we've won up to this point, we put a ton of effort into it and no game did we just cruise through it to win. This game shows how small a line it is between winning and losing.

FC Dallas forward Marvin Chavez

We just weren't good enough today. More than anything else, that was the problem today, not that it was too physical for me or us. We have to keep our heads up. Maybe as a group, as coach said, there was a little bit of fatigue. We're coming off of a long run of games that took a lot out of us in which there were positive results, but credit to Kansas City because they came in and were a tough team to play against and we were not.

Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes

This was a tough one for us. We expended a lot of nervous energy Thursday night and to come back down here in such a short turn around knowing full well the game was played at six o’clock and knowing the heat was going to be factor. Omar is out from the tackle, we have another player that came back from Grenada, Craig Rocastle, so we’ve lost some players and we have guys that are on national team duty as well for Guadalupe, Honduras and Jamaica, so it is definitely a testing period for us, but I give a lot of credit to the guys for their commitment physically.

How excited you are to win here in Dallas…

We are undefeated since our New England game, which is like five games now, and we have been right there. There is not a lot that has gone our way this season, but credit to the guys because they have been committed. They have not got off the beaten path. They’ve stayed focused and committed on what we are trying to do and believe in each other and that’s a great thing.

Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi

Thoughts on first goal…

The first one was a classic counter attack, working the ball from left to right. C.J. made a good run across the top of the box, which opened up space for me, took a couple touches, got inside and found the far post.

On the heat…

We were very disciplined. It was extremely hot today and we came in with a game plan and stuck to it throughout the whole game.

On quick turnaround from opening of new park on Thursday to tonight’s game…

That’s though especially when you’re on the road as well, after a midweek game. To be honest, we were disappointed we didn’t get the win on Thursday, so for us to come here on the road and get a win was huge for us.

Sporting KC defender Luke Sassano

On first career goal…

I’m very happy. My first job is to help the team defensively, when I can help them score a goal that is even better. I hope I score a lot more and I’m very happy.

On weather…

It was crazy. I have never played in these conditions before. I was so tired and it was very, very hard.

Will this victory turnaround the season…

Of course, but it’s not this game, we’ve been good and concentrated the last four games, but I believe we are on our way to beating stronger teams.

Graham Zusi and Sporting manhandle FC Dallas

June, 13, 2011
One week after their more comprehensive performance since the loss of David Ferreira, and perhaps even on the season, FC Dallas turned in perhaps their worst performance of the year despite being up a man for most of the second half. Sporting KC hadn't scored more than one goal in a game since April 23rd and got four on the night. Graham Zusi had two himself and assisted on another as Sporting put up a 4-1 score line on the Red Stripes.

FCD was flat, lathargetic, and while they enjoyed a great deal of possession again, they were quite ineffective and were beaten repeatedly by KC. The loss ends FCD's nine game unbeaten streak. "As a team we can’t have these types of performances very often," head coach Schellas Hyndman said. "I think we are a much better team than what we showed today. I think it’s an embarrassing moment for the coaches and for the players.”

Hynmdan post game video...

(note: FCD has started putting a short promo at the start of these videos, so just hang through that.

Andrew Jacobson post game video

The lone bright spot for FCD was the wonder goal by Brek Shea, cutting through four defenders before beating the keeper. It was the kind of goal that would be runaway Goal the Week most MLS weekends. Eric Hassli of Vancouver might have something to say about this week's award though.

Brek Shea's goal
Sporting KC (2-6-4) vs. FC Dallas (7-4-4)
June 12, 2011 -- Pizza Hut Park

Scoring Summary:
KC -- Graham Zusi 1 (Davy Arnaud 1) 28
DAL -- Brek Shea 5 (unassisted) 32
KC -- Aurelien Collin 1 (C.J. Sapong 2, Graham Zusi 1) 49
KC -- Graham Zusi 2 (unassisted) 55
KC -- Luke Sassano 1 (Birahim Diop 1) 78

Sporting KC -- Eric Kronberg, Chance Myers, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Seth Sinovic, Birahim Diop (Julio Cesar 78), Davy Arnaud (Kei Kamara 68), Milos Stojcev, Graham Zusi (Teal Bunbury 89), Luke Sassano, C.J. Sapong.

Substitutes Not Used: Korede Aiyegbusi, Kevin Ellis, Scott Lorenz, Jon Kempin.

FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd (Jackson Goncalves 46), George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez (Ruben Luna 74), Eric Alexander (Milton Rodriguez 46), Andrew Jacobson, Daniel Hernandez, Brek Shea, Marvin Chavez, Fabian Castillo.

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Avila, Bruno Guarda, Bobby Warshaw, Chris Seitz.

Misconduct Summary:
KC -- Aurelien Collin (caution; Reckless Foul) 21
KC -- Seth Sinovic (caution; Reckless Tackle) 33
KC -- Milos Stojcev (caution; Reckless Tackle) 39
DAL -- Zach Loyd (caution; Reckless Foul) 47+
DAL -- Ugo Ihemelu (caution; Reckless Tackle) 56
KC -- Milos Stojcev (caution; Reckless Tackle) 56
KC -- Milos Stojcev (ejection; Second Caution) 56
DAL -- Milton Rodriguez (caution; Reckless Tackle) 89

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Anthony Vasoli; Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Matthew Foerster
Attendance: 10,450
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Sunny-and-98-degrees