Dallas Soccer: Major League Soccer

The Report Card: FC Dallas v New England Revolution

April, 6, 2012
4/06/12
7:27
AM CT
First Touch: In a move made of necessity, Hyndman rolls out a new formation and hopes it works

Second Touch: Mostly a snoozer of a match that got interesting in the last ten minutes as a Villar-less FCD decided it wanted to win

The Finish: A team low on morale, midfielders and time, in a new formation, overcame all of that via the big hearts of several players who just kept on fighting and literally grabbed the three points from Matt Reis.

Grades:

Hartman: 8 - Made five saves, and made all five look rather easy

Pertuz: 7 - The kid is a burglar. Faired well despite playing out of position, continues to impress

John: 7 - A solid night, but his passing going forward needs some resharpening

Ugo: 8 - Recovered from last week's poor outing by dominating in the air and fighting through cramps. With a great header he captain'd his side to the win

Loyd: 8 - Not enough can be said about this kid's level of fitness. Also playing out of position on the left, Zack was not only solid defending and going forward, his perfectly floated free kick into the box was big time. But it was the display of effort late first half, when he made a 40 yard sprint to help attack, only to have to make a 50 yard super sprint to recover and steal the ball that makes a coach's heart flutter. Oh, then he immediately made another 40 yard sprint to get back into Dallas' counter.

Rodriguez: 5 - A quiet night, helped Pertuz a lot but also never really got into the attack as hoped

Shea: 6 - I don't know how he's pulling 90's. He was not to "Brek" standards for most of the match, but late had a few moments where he turned it on, displayed that next level and almost single handedly took over. Shellas has to find a way to get him a break, but injuries will likely prevent that

Jacobson: 4 - The lone holding mid spot is demanding and lonely. It wasn't a bad night for AJ, but a more aggressive opponent might prove to be more than he can handle alone

Villar: 4 - Very little play through the middle and his instruction to stay high left him with far too few touches on the ball. When he did have it, still turned it over too much. But the irony is that Dallas will hold its collective breath over the ankle injury as Dallas is better with him than without. Which is more of a statement about the roster than Ricardo.

Castillo: 6 - Hard to grade as the kid impacted the match so many times, but very little to show from it. He's like a 14 year old girl driving a Porsche Turbo. So much speed and potential, but rarely uses any of it correctly, or to successful result. We know he can get into the box with the ball, now what can he do with it? But watching him hit the pedal and cut at full speed is an amazing site to see

Perez: 7 - His single blown shot is worrisome only because there was only one shot. But that belies the amount of hard work and ground he covered in 90 minutes. Not to mention the foul he created that set up the free kick. To be fair to Blas, he has been very impressive in his attitude and play for FCD - does not at all play like his journeyman's resume hints.

Subs:

Warshaw: 6 - Dutiful and that's what Hyndman needs right now
Hedges: 7 - 15 solid minutes with almost a goal, and some confident defending and passing

The Report Card: FC Dallas at DC United

March, 31, 2012
3/31/12
5:31
PM CT
First Touch: DC United got its first win (and four! goals) against a drowning FC Dallas side that continues to melt under any midfield pressure

Second Touch: Turnovers in the worst possible places and situations continue to plague Hyndman

The Finish: All teams have off nights (see LA and RSL), but the way they lost in KC & DC feels more like a revealing of the team's actual identity (worst GD in the West -3)

The Whiff: Now with Hernandez suspended what does Shellas do? Stick with the formation and show off that super shallow midfield depth? Or, does he go to a 4-4-2?

Elbow to the Face: Don't even get me started on Ferreira.

Grades

Hartman: 8 - A monster night with several saves that prevented this from being a criminal act of murder

Loyd: 4 - Struggled against DeLeon and was part of the turnover army

Ugo: 3 - A woeful night for the captain. Some horrid passing out of the back and lazy defending on DC's third goal

Pertuz: 4 - A really odd decision to step left gave Santos a valley to shoot through on first goal

Benitez: 3 - His passing has been atrocious this season and his overall play not much better

Rodriguez: 4 - Never was able to really get involved in the match

Shea: 3 - Shouldn't have even started (much less play a full 90), but he did and had a nightmare match. Bad passes, easily dispossessed, and his touch was way off all night

Hernandez: 3 - Another match where his age and condition are showing as he continues to make reaching fouls because he's lost that step. Here he was ejected because of it

Jacobson: 3 - Too many hopeful, searching, longish balls to nowhere, and not enough smart, short possession creating passes. Is Andrew MLS starting quality?

Villar: 4 - One of his better nights, but that isn't saying much. Still playing too deep, too many unforced turnovers and like Jacobson, the question is he MLS starting quality (especially at this position)

Perez: 6 - First he's offside on that goal, but good for him for playing through. How good is Blas? How can you know, only six shots in four matches. Compare that to Kamara's 24 or Henry's 13. Oddly all six are SOG, but he has only the pair of goals. Point being, he's not getting the ball enough.

Subs:
Leyva & Perea: Neither had a chance as the team clearly had given up by the time either entered the match




MLS, US Soccer create Professional Referee Organization

March, 6, 2012
3/06/12
2:56
PM CT
MLS just put out an interesting announcement... (I shortened the press release below.)
MLS, U.S. Soccer Create Professional Referee Organization

New organization will manage referee program for professional leagues in United States and Canada

NEW YORK (Tuesday, March 6, 2012) – Today Major League Soccer and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the formation of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO), an organization that will be responsible for managing the referee program in professional soccer leagues in the United States and Canada.

The creation of PRO is designed to increase the quality of officiating in U.S. and Canadian professional leagues, develop more professional quality officials at a younger age and develop officials who will represent the United States and Canada in FIFA competitions.

Veteran English referee Peter Walton has been named General Manager of PRO. All current U.S. Soccer professional referee staff positions will transition to PRO and report to Walton, who begins his full-time work for PRO on April 2 and will be based in New York City through the conclusion of the MLS season.

U.S. Soccer and MLS will govern and fund the organization, with ongoing collaborative support from the Canadian Soccer Association and other professional leagues. Beginning this year, PRO will manage officials in the MLS and MLS Reserve games, the North American Soccer League, USL PRO and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

I had two thoughts immediately after I read the thing...

1. Fantastic, MLS has needed to take their refs to the next level of professionalism. Anything that might make refereeing better in the league in in US soccer I am on board with.

and...

2. Another Englishman? Really? Why is it that any time MLS thinks they need help they go running to the nearest person from England? English refs, officials, managers, and players haven't been the best in the world for quite a while. What is it with us American's and our fixation on Englishmen for soccer?

Is there really no one in CONCACAF that was good enough? Mexico didn't have anyone? What's Essie" Baharmast doing these days? There wasn't anyone from Germany, Italy, Argentina.... so we get yet another Englishman? Lame.

Ok, seriously...

Great news, great move by MLS. Will this Peter Walton be any good? I hope so. Kneejerk reaction aside, he may be great. Can't make MLS refs worse I don't imagine (or could it?).

No matter who they put in there, this has to be seen as a step forward for MLS.

FC Dallas 2012 schedule

January, 5, 2012
1/05/12
2:06
PM CT
MLS has released the schedule for 2012. FC Dallas plays on national TV 12 times: 5 times on the new NBC Sports, 5 times on Galavision, once on ESPN and once on ESPN2.

Here is the complete FC Dallas regular season schedule.

3/11 2:00PM vs New York NBC Sports
3/17 7:30PM vs Portland
3/25 6:00PM @ Sporting KC Galavision
3/30 6:30PM @ DC United NBC Sports
4/05 7:30PM vs New England
4/14 7:30PM vs Montreal
4/21 9:00PM @ Vancouver
4/25 7:30PM vs Real Salt Lake
4/28 9:30PM @ LA Galaxy
5/06 6:00PM vs Colorado Galavision
5/09 7:30PM vs Seattle
5/12 6:30PM @ Columbus
5/19 7:30PM vs Philadelphia
5/23 7:30PM @ Chicago
5/26 8:00PM @ Real Salt Lake
6/16 4:00PM @ Houston ESPN2
6/23 8:00PM vs Chivas USA Galavision
7/04 8:00PM vs Toronto FC
7/07 8:00PM vs San Jose
7/14 8:00PM @ Colorado
7/18 9:30PM @ San Jose
7/21 8:00PM vs Portland
7/28 7:00PM vs LA Galaxy NBC Sports
8/05 6:00PM @ Portland NBC Sports
8/11 8:00PM vs Colorado
8/15 9:00PM @ Vancouver
8/18 8:00PM @ Real Salt Lake
8/26 6:00PM @ LA Galaxy NBC Sports
9/02 6:00PM vs Seattle
9/15 7:30PM vs Vancouver
9/29 9:30PM @ San Jose
10/07 6:00PM @ Chivas USA Galavision
10/21 8:00PM @ Seattle ESPN
10/28 6:00PM vs Chivas USA Galavision

Each of the League’s 19 clubs will play 34 matches, 17 at home and 17 away, during 34 weeks. Within each conference, each club will play the same number of in-conference and out-of-conference games, following the competition format announced on Nov. 20, 2011.
Major League Soccer has announced the 2012 Generation adidas class and four additional college senior signings. These players and many other seniors will participate in the adidas MLS Player Combine Jan. 6-10 at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Combine matches will be closed to the public but fans can watch the matches live on MLSsoccer.com.

The five Generation adidas signings are Sam Garza (from Highland Village, Texas, and UCSB), Chandler Hoffman (UCLA), Darren Mattocks (Akron), Kelyn Rowe (UCLA), and Andrew Wenger (Duke). In addition to the Generation adidas signings, MLS added four college seniors to the list of signees as Tony Cascio (UConn), Nick DeLeon (Louisville), Luis Silva (UCSB), and Casey Townsend (Maryland) signed MLS contracts in advance of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.

The 2012 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 12 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, TSN2, and RDS2.

There will likely be more signings by MLS prior to the draft as the league has widely been reported talking to a few more candidates.

FC Dallas declines contract option on two players

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
10:54
AM CT
Major League Soccer announced the list of players elligible for the 2011 MLS Re-Entry Process and two FC Dallas players are on the list, both by virtue of having their contract option declined.

Maykel Galindo and Maicon Santos both had their contract option declined by FCD. Galindo was on a quite affordable $55k salary, but was an injury gamble when he signed and just didn't pan out due to more injuries. Santos on a much less easy to swallow, but by no means obscene, $126K salary just didn't deliver the good of a top line striker.

Clubs may still sign their Re-Entry Process eligible players through December 2. Additionally, eligible players may opt out of the Re-Entry Process between now and 5 p.m. ET on December 2.

The Stage 1 Draft of the Re-Entry Process will take place on Monday, December 5 and the Stage 2 Draft will take place on Monday, December 12. The two drafts will take place via teleconference with all 19 clubs represented. MLS will release the results following each of the calls.

The rules for the re-entry stuff are a bit convoluted, but suffice it to say that teams in MLS can pick up these players at their current contract or similar (stage 1) or get the player with an offer of a contract (stage 2). Clubs may not select their own players in Stage 1. If both stages pass without a player being selected he becomes a free agents.

By the way FC Dallas picks 10th. Keeping in mind most of these players were placed on here to dump their salaries. Yet there are still some names on this list worth a look.

Marvin Chavez up for MLS Goal of the Week

October, 17, 2011
10/17/11
5:46
PM CT
Marvin Chavez has been nominted for MLS Goal of the Week for his strike against Vancouver Whitecaps. You can go here to vote.

Here are all the nominees.

You could win Kevin Hartman's cancer awareness boots

October, 14, 2011
10/14/11
1:57
PM CT

Kevin Hartmann
adidasThe 3rd Degree blog will be giving away a signed shoe (shown below) worn by FC Dallas goaltender Kevin Hartman. Follow @3rdDegreeNet for your chance to win.

Major League Soccer is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month by going pink. In support of that movement Kevin Hartman is wearing pink themed adiPower Predators he designed himself.

Hartman, along with Seattle Sounders FC forward Fredy Montero and Sporting Kansas City forward Teal Bunbury, designed their own pink cleats on www.miadidas.com. You to can apparently go there and design your own, or get the ones Hartman is wearing.

Kevin Hartmann
adidas

As an added bonus, 3rd Degree will be giving away one of Hartman's signed cleats. The contest will run at the end of the month on our twitter account. So make sure you are following us @3rdDegreeNet for your chance to win.

Over the last week we've seen two of the four trophies MLS teams can win awarded. First Seattle won their third straight US Open Cup (in front of a record crowd I should ad), then LA Galaxy won their 2nd straight supporters shield. The other two trophies are MLS Cup and the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Side note: Seattle was the first team to win 3-straight USOC since 1969 and only the 4th ever. They are also the first MLS team to win three straight of any title.

Side note 2: LA becomes the third straight team to win consecutive Shields [D.C. United (2006-07) and Columbus (2008-09)]. LA also ties D.C. United with their fourth Shield overall

Both those results got me to thinking, which of the four trophies MLS teams can win is the most important? I know that how I rank them isn't how an objective person would rank them, so I'll attempt to do both.

The Objective Ranking

1. MLS Cup - Let's face it, 95% of the people out there in the US would only know the MLS Cup. This is how MLS determines it's champion. Most MLS fans when they refer to the champion of any given MLS season will point to the MLS Cup winner. That basic awareness makes this by far the most important title a MLS team can win.

2. CONCACAF Champions Cup - The CCL comes second because the rest of the world would notice. Continental champs has a nice ring to it. The winner also gets into the Club World Cup and in front of a world wide audience. But let's face it, most of the prestige of a MLS team winning this Cup will come from knocking off Mexican club teams and out-dueling a league that has dominated MLS (for the most part).

3. US Open Cup - Our domestic cup title, equivalent to the FA Cup in Europe. Almost 100 years of history. A knockout cup that anyone in domestic soccer can win and a true title with a Championship game.

4. Supporters Shield - The holder of the best regular season record in any given MLS season. Let's face it, many soccer fans won't get this one, let alone your average Joe. "Who cares about the best record in the regular season?" they would say, "it's all about the playoffs." Much to my chagrin this is the US of A.... playoffs matter, the regular season doesn't mean much beyond home field advantage in the dance.

Buzz World Rankings

My personal feeling about cups are a different matter however.

1. CONCACAF Champions League - For me the hardest title to win. It's the hardest to get into, only 4 MLS teams instead of 8 or even 10 in MLS playoffs. It has the toughest competition against the best of Mexico and the champions off all the other North American leagues. And perhaps most of all no MLS team has ever won it (although MLS teams did win the CONCACAF Champions Cup before there were as many teams and the group format). The first MLS team to bring home this bad boy will go down in history and grab some world wide glory.

2. Supporters Shield - It's quite simple, for me the best team any given MLS season is actually the supporters shield winner. Yes, I get that it's not the title. But wining the SS means you had the best club for the entire season. It means more wins, better football, and better enjoyment for the longest period of time. The best team wins this one, no middle of the pack team can. The SS takes the most pure winning talent over the longest run.

3. MLS Cup - Only important for me at all because it's the domestic league "champion." If it weren't for the "title" this would fall well below the USOC, because really it's a 8 (ok now 10) team postseason, knockout tournament. It's win three games for a Cup, or 4 if you are a wild card this year. A mediocre .500 team can get hot and win this thing. The best team does not always win. Sure playoffs are fun, but single game knockout in anything but the NFL... meh.

4. US Open Cup - I would so love to put this trophy above MLS Cup, but I just can't. Even in my world the domestic league title is worth more than the cup title. But dang do I love the Open Cup. It's got history, tradition, glory for the little guy, and it's very American, inclusive and democratic. Everyone can get into the Cup and anyone can win it. Getting into the MLS Cup is harder, if just barley, but winning the US Open Cup is harder. If you face a lower league team it's their Super Bowl and greatest win ever to knock you off. For MLS teams it's usually just four wins to the title, and yes the bidding for home field can un-level the playing field, but this is still a heck of a tournament. It's a shame the audience in the stands and on TV is so terrible.

So there's my list, where do you rank the four trophies?

MLS going pink to help fight breast cancer

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
1:52
PM CT
Like the NFL and other major sports, Major League Soccer is now going pink in the fight against breast cancer.

MLS is starting a breast cancer awareness campaign as part of Soccer Kicks Cancer, a three-month campaign focused on raising awareness and funds for cancer research and treatment and providing strength and hope in the fight against cancer affecting men, women and children. All 18 MLS clubs will conduct one night of local activation to raise awareness and funds for the cause throughout the month of October.

In collaboration with MLS partners adidas and Gatorade, matches will be played with a commemorative pink adidas Jabulani match ball and players will use pink sideline towels provided by Gatorade. MLS corporate and broadcast partners will also support the campaign with field board recognition during select matches. MLS players and referees will wear a special pink MLS W.O.R.K.S. ribbon patch on their jerseys, pink adidas sweat bands, pink shoelaces and several goalkeepers will use pink gloves to further support the cause.

Game-worn autographed jerseys and the special-edition pink match balls will be available for auction at www.MLSsoccer.com/works beginning October 7 as part of the League’s effort to raise funds for breast cancer research and treatment.

Limited edition Breast Cancer Awareness adidas products including scarves, sweat bands, hats, t-shirts and replica balls will be available for purchase at select retailers throughout North America, including MLS stadium shops and MLSGear.com. A portion of the proceeds from these sales and proceeds from the online auction will benefit Susan G. Komen for the CureŽ.

MLS clubs will conduct additional fundraising efforts in their communities, including in-stadium auctions and donating a portion of ticket sales proceeds, and/or hold recognition ceremonies for local survivors during the following home matches: FC Dallas, October 15

NBC and Major League Soccer reach three year agreement

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
12:41
PM CT
MLS took what, in my opinion at least, is a great step forward today, announcing a TV partnership with NBC. This deal, in essence, will replace the expiring one year deal with Fox Soccer Channel. This new NBC deal aligns with the current ESPN and Univision deals which will all expire at the end of 2014.

New blood is a good thing in my opinion, getting another major network in bed with MLS surly is a positive step. Just like with the other deal it has in place only a few MLS games will air on the main network, with the bulk of the game appearing on NBC Sports Network (Versus will be re-branded).

Here's the press release with the details on the deal...

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER AND NBC SPORTS GROUP ANNOUNCE MULTI-YEAR PARTNERSHIP

NBC & NBC Sports Network to Televise 49 Games per Season, Including Four Appearances by U.S. Men’s National Team

Major League Soccer (MLS) and the NBC Sports Group today announced a three-year media rights agreement, which commences at the start of the 2012 MLS season. The partnership calls for 45 MLS games and four U.S. Men’s National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and NBC Sports Network each season. This marks the first rights deal for the newly-named cable channel that will be re-branded from VERSUS on January 2, 2012. The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber and Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.

“Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer,” said Lazarus. “MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams.”

Each season, NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the U.S. Men’s National Team, marking the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on English-language network television since 2002. The NBC Sports Network will televise 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two U.S. Men’s National Team matches. All telecasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.

“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”

Featuring an exciting mix of players, including world-class stars such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry, MLS is one of the nation’s fastest growing sports properties. It has seen considerable growth across many metrics, including number of teams (10 clubs in 2004 to 19 in 2012) and new stadiums (two soccer stadiums in 2004 to having 15 of 19 clubs playing in venues built with soccer in mind, including new soccer stadiums in Houston and Montreal next year). This season, the League is enjoying the highest average attendance and largest number of corporate sponsors in its 16-year history.

Along with already-established MLS partnerships with five Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia), this agreement provides the league with coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks and digital platforms.

Match Grades: FC Dallas vs. Columbus

July, 4, 2011
7/04/11
5:26
PM CT
Another sold-out match for the front office and another win for the coaching staff and squad, 2-0. The win over a growing Columbus Crew side showed that many of the positives FC Dallas had exhibited in the last few matches could appear against a side in form.

Again, the loss of Castillo is ironic because the subsequent formation change to a 4-2-3-1 has allowed the team to return to its superior passing/possession game. Dallas isn't quite the team it is when Ferreira is out there at peak form but is better when it is patient, keeps the ball on the ground and finds creative paths to goal -- instead of trying to only dump behind the defense and hope that pure speed will win out.

Jackson's mental reboot has given Schellas Hyndman a completely different player. The Brazilian has almost become Shea's equal on the opposite side, and the chipped goal was of the highest quality.

Ricardo Villar's 30 minutes were a welcome site as he finally put in a quality performance that comes at a perfect time. Dallas now faces a brutal month of July with USOC, CCL and league matches coming fast and furious. Two games a week for the forseeable future means that a confident, in-form Villar will be key to Dallas' July story.

Grades:

Hartman -- 8: Five saves, one of which was the block on that late laser blast

Loyd -- 8: Really starting to play much better and his pairing with Jackson is particularly good

John -- 8: If this guy could improve his passing even more (and he's getting better weekly) he gets a fat check

Ugo -- 7: Struggled with Mendoza on occasion

Benitez -- 6: Just how healthy is that knee?

Shea -- 8: As he grows in confidence, so does the team

Jackson -- 9: FCD will be a playoff terror if he can keep this up

Jacobson -- 8: Nice recovery from last week's off performance

Hernandez -- 8: A marvel of determination and leadership

Alexander -- 7: Will Villar's performance effect Alex's place in the starting 11?

Chavez -- 7: Still no goals but overall positive impact with effort that went above and beyond

Subs:

Villar: 8 -- Skillful, creative, positive -- can he do it consistently and over 90?

Milton: 7 -- Hat's off to a guy who's not stirring the room because he's not starting

Wiedeman: n/a

Match Grade: A -- PHP is a wonderful place to be when its full and the home team is playing as well as this.

Match grades: Portland vs. FC Dallas

June, 27, 2011
6/27/11
5:47
PM CT
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.

Match Grades: Chivas USA v FC Dallas (5-18)

June, 20, 2011
6/20/11
12:03
PM CT
Schellas Hyndman has whisked up the soccer equivalent of "Making Lemonade out of Lemons" to good effect for his FC Dallas troops. It's not tasty-sweet lemonade, mind you, but its getting the job done.

Who needs possession and patient passing play when you can stretch your opponent's back line with your speedy forwards, while other end plays swarming, lock-down defense? Dallas conceded ownership of the ball almost 75% of the time, but had three times the shots on goal (7:2).

The great news is that the 4-1 drubbing from Sporting KC appears to have been a one-off affair. While Dallas wasn't necessarily the better team in its 2-1 win over Chivas USA, the team did return to its highly likable high-effort work rate. Movement and pressure from FCD helped create Chivas' numerous turnovers and Dallas' counterattacks.

The Home Depot Center also contains one of the league's biggest pitches (if not the biggest) and that certainly played into Dallas' strategy. Having Castillo and Chavez make wide runs continues to clear space for Shea to move inside. This is a wonderful maneuver and has created multiple chances (if not goals), but should we see someone else other than Brek making those runs into the box? Does Hyndman's plan allow for Jacobson, Hernandez or Alexander to move into that space? If so, it's not happening enough and the only criticism of the plan.

No matter, Brek is the team's most dangerous player and for two weeks in a row has scored goals a few notches higher in skill level than generally seen in MLS. Last week's run-dribble-calmly slot the ball past the keeper was a fantastic display of speed and skill. This weekend's goal showed off a different set of abilities which will continue to grow the kid's stature.

Dallas realizes its shortcomings and has glued together a strategy that makes the most of the remaining parts.

Couple of other notes:
  • Can Hyndman revisit the strategy of Ugo taking throw-ins deep down the touchline? I think I counted six attempts at this Saturday night and three of them somehow found their way straight back out, and the others failed to result in possession. I'm not sure what this strategy is, but its not working.
  • How different would this team be if they had a forward that could check back and hold the ball? Milton should be this person, but he's lack of speed hurts the team. Should fans expect an addition in July here?
  • Is Brek growing out a blonde version of some sort of creepy, tiny 1930's mustache, or was that a band-aide on his lip?
  • How great would it be if FCD had white shorts and socks to wear in away matches when the opponent also wears dark shorts/socks? (Chivas, RSL)
Grades:

Hartman: 8 - Faultless on the goal, another great outing

Loyd: 7 - A strong improvement from last outing, still tends to chase the ball

Ugo: 8: - Throw-ins aside, a good night

John: 7 - Really solid, again. At some point does "unlucky" need to become maybe you don't take that chance and kick out at a shot?

Benitez: 5 - Has to be struggling with knee injury. Looks slower, is getting beat in 50/50's and passing has dropped way off

Alexander: 7 - Really nice match. Such poise on the ball in cramped space, and had one really nice sequence to relieve pressure out of the back. Also thought he was particularly good once team moved to 4-5-1. Needs to cut back on turnovers and have a larger impact on offense

Shea: 8 - See above.

Hernandez: 7 - Led the team in a redeeming performance

Jacobson: 8 - Extra points for two assists; one beautifully placed on purpose, the other beautifully placed even if unintended

Castillo: 6 - So much more effective when attacking from deep

Chavez: 6 - Effort and speed can make up for a lot of crummy decisions

Subs:

Warshaw: 5

Jackson: 9 - Hey, the decision to be in place was great, but the finish was of a high quality

Galindo: 5

Match Grade: B Watching Dallas sit, absorb and counter is not the entertaining, beautiful, passing style we came to love in 2010. But the team is winning and finding success with an equally likable level of effort and flashes of skill.
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Match Grades: FC Dallas v Sporting KC

June, 13, 2011
6/13/11
2:12
PM CT
Nobody was under the impression that the 2011 edition of FC Dallas was going to repeat the 19 game unbeaten streak of the previous season. Dallas was going to drop points eventually, probably sooner than later.

But its unlikely that anyone suspected that Dallas would drop those three points in the horrific manner that took place in Sunday's 4-1 drubbing at the feet of a sad sack Kansas City side.

There is little debate that the attitude and apathy that was on display in red and white hoops had previously been unseen since Hyndman fully stamped his thumbprint on the squad in 2010.

Dallas didn't lose to a "better" team, but they lost to a team that wanted the points more, and worked a lot harder. That is something very unfamiliar to a FC Dallas fan. The number of horrid passes, lay out on tackles, halted runs, or no run at all became uncountable long before halftime. If a fan was of a conspiracy-loving orientation, they'd certainly think that someone had gassed the FCD locker room prior to kickoff.

Yes, it was hot - but that is supposed to be an advantage for the home team. Sure, KC was having to run out a long list of reserves and FCD was at full strength - but how'd that end up being advantageous for Sporting? Yeah, KC went down a man with about 30 minutes remaining - so after how'd SKC end up being the only team to score?

There is either a simple, single answer - Hyndman made a mistake in letting off the throttle with the week-long break, or something larger is afoot.

It was a second consecutive match Dallas was allowed to hold the vast majority of possession, except in the last match against New England, Dallas used it to create multiple opportunities that went unfinished. Against KC, all that possession went unspent. Dallas' only shot on goal came after Shea's one-man Messi impersonation.

One. Shot. On. Goal. Let that sink in, then remember KC sits on the bottom of the ladder and spent the last quarter of the match down a man.

Dallas now gets to travel to LA face down Chivas USA. On paper, that's an away match that FCD should at least grab a point. If Dallas throws out a consecutive poor performance questions will begin wondering if the adrenaline of the Ferreira injury and the switch in formation have worn off.

Hyndman has been a master at the mental aspect of this game and the solid bet is that Sunday's dump was a one-off. An exception to the rule from a team given some latitude with a full week off for the first time since April. FC Dallas has simply been too mentally tough for too long. Dallas might not win in LA, but its unlikely that it will happen in the manner that unfurled Sunday night.

Grades:

Hartman - 3: If Kevin can get caught napping like that…

Loyd - 2: Bad passing, poor defending

John - 4: Just part of the bad night

Ugo - 3: Didn't look interested & multiple bad touches

Benitez - 3: Left work ethic at home

Alexander - 4: Sacrificed (saved?) from 2nd half

Shea - 5: Hard to give anyone an average grade, but Shea's one moment will become a FCD highlight reel filler for all time.

Hernandez - 3: Daniel needs to get team back on track

Jacobson - 3: If anyone struggled it was this kid

Chavez - 2: For someone so fast, why so slow in making decisions on the ball?

Castillo - 2: Another ghosting of a performance

Subs:

Milton - 3: Failed to have any effect on the match

Jackson - 3: Only a slight upgrade from Zack's performance

Luna - 3: The hopes for a breakout season seem so long ago.






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