Dallas Soccer: Marvin Chávez
There are, however, some red flags that could derail the season and Coach Schellas Hyndman has his work cut out for him.
Older Player’s Health
Kevin Hartman 37, Daniel Hernandez 35, Jair Benitez 33, Ricardo Villar 32, David Ferreira 32… Those are not spring chickens.
Older players do get hurt more, they break down, they need more rest, and they can’t play as many games. The core of FCD’s team is old (in soccer terms) and several of them are coming off injuries. Hernandez in particular has been playing hurt at playoff time the last two years, needing knee surgery in both cases.
Can these older gentleman hold together for the season and carry FCD deep into the playoffs? Time will tell.
FC Dallas struggled with a very heavy fixture schedule last year and Hyndman admitted at the end of the season the team was short on depth. The schedule will be lighter this year with no CONCACAF Champions League, but the team’s depth hasn’t gotten any better. Several players who logged a lot of minutes last year are gone (Jackson, Marvin Chavez, Eric Avila, Maicon Santos, Daniel Cruz) a few of them without being replaced.
It’s good for the long term situation at FCD that the club has six home grown players… but in the short term it’s bad. Those Home Grown players eat up roster spots that could be filled by players coming out of college or signed from other leagues. Bottom line, FC Dallas needs some of the Home Grown players (other than Ruben Luna that is) to start improving, getting some minutes, and making an impact.
Maybe FCD’s new TD Fernando Clavijo can help with this one.
Brek Shea and Summer Olympics
At this point Brek Shea appears to be a big part of the US U23 team that will be heading, pending qualifying, to the 2012 Olympics in London. Olympic qualifying starts March 22nd for the US, Shea will probably be gone for a camp then the games that could run till Mach 31st.
Then Olympic soccer tournament will run from July 25th to August 11th. Doubtful, of course, that the US will advance to all the way to the final, but we can hope yes? There will be camp before the tournament where the final team is selected and Shea will almost certainly be a part again.
So a quick glance at the MLS calendar says Shea could miss 10, maybe 12 games, and that doesn’t include call ups to the senior team for which Shea has now started 10 games in a row.
With FCD’s depth the way it is, there aren’t a ton of solutions when Shea will be out. Scott Sealy can play some in wide midfield; Andrew Wiedeman is getting a lot of time with reserves this spring; and Carols Rodriguez is a possibility, if not an ideal one.
Bottom line, FCD’s best player last year may miss a third of this season.
George John contentment/happiness
I’m of two minds about George John’s return to FCD. On the one hand he’s a terrific MLS player who is a great asset for the back line. Alongside Ugo Ihemelu, they make one of the best center back combos in MLS.
But on the other hand, I’m not real sure John wants to be here in Dallas. Twice now he’s gotten involved in a potential transfer, the most recent of which involved a loan with a buy option (that wasn’t picked up). John has a Greek passport, which makes him eligible for play in Europe without counting as a foreign player. Coach Hyndman says John has turned down multiple contract offers from FCD.
And just this week John again didn’t want to talk about his contact… “I have no comment on that right now. I’m with the team, John said. “I’m here for the year, just looking forward to earning my spot back on the squad and playing some games.”
It’s not that I blame John for wanting to go to Europe. He would make way more money over there and play at a higher level. MLS and FCD both have a typical salary structure which means there’s only so much a club will want to pay a domestic center back. Of course John wants to go, wouldn’t you?
The problem for FCD is how John will react to being back. John has always been a player who worked his tail off both in training and in games. He’s physical, tough, and doesn’t back down from challenges. If he does not really want to be here will he be the same player?
It’s clear last year the team’s defense went downhill after John returned from his first potential transfer that didn’t happen. Yet what I know about John tells me he will still work hard and be the same guy he’s always been; leading a once again tight FCD defense. It’s not in his nature to mail it in.
As I said at the top, Coach Hyndman may have his work cut out for him this year.
Will the 2010 version of David Ferreira return or is he gone for good?
Ferreira didn’t make his preseason debut until Feb. 23 against the U.S. Under-23 team. While there have been flashes of his old self, he did suffer an Achilles injury during last week’s trip to Florida and was in a walking boot, casting considerable doubt as to whether or not he’ll be ready for Sunday’s season opener with the New York Red Bulls. “El Torito” was known for taking a beating during his MVP season but the cumulative effects of all those knocks finally caught up with him last year when he went down with an ankle injury just six games into the season.
Verdict: Mixed, while there have been flashes of the 2010 version, prompting some to drink the Kool Aid and say he’s completely back, those statements are a bit premature. Ferreira is more than likely a shell of his former shelf, which is still pretty good. FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said he was at 80 percent late last week, which isn’t bad. But the fact he might not be as durable as he once was is a huge concern heading into the season.
Who will step up at right mid?
With 2011 starter Marvin Chavez traded to San Jose late in 2011 and likely heir apparent Jackson playing in his native Brazil, there was some question as to who would start at right midfield. Fabian Castillo has pretty much claimed that spot as his own. Sure, there have been some nice preseason performances by one Andrew Wiedeman, but his six goals all came against college competition and there’s still some question about whether or not he’s a starting-caliber player in MLS. So, your starter at right mid will be Castillo on Sunday. Wiedeman could be a nice option off the bench, maybe even as an energy guy sort of like Eric Avila was over the last few years, but he’s not a starter, at least not yet.
Verdict: Resounding, Castillo has been by far the top choice at right mid. Sure, Hyndman would like to see him handle his defensive responsibilities better, but with his pace and ability to get up and down the flanks, he gives FCD exactly what they need in that spot-a playmaker. He is still young and relatively inexperienced but the upside associated with this speedy Colombian remains quite high. That alone means he’ll be the starter.
Will the health of Daniel Hernandez and Andrew Jacobson be a concern going forward?
When healthy, the central midfield combination of holding mid Daniel Hernandez and linking mid Andrew Jacobson was rock solid for FCD last year. The problem was that they weren’t healthy for much of 2011 as both fought through respective injuries (although they still did pretty well in all honesty). Both Daniel and AJ had knee surgeries this off-season and their respective recoveries have been mixed. Hernandez’s surgery was about six weeks after Jacobson’s, and while he did have some issues initially, he now appears to be over those. Jacobson hasn’t experienced any issues at all during preseason, so he appears good to go going forward.
Verdict: Mixed, Hernandez has experienced some issues during his recovery while Jacobson has not. Maybe a big part of that is Hernandez’s age, but of the two players, the ex-FCD captain has to rank as the bigger concern going forward, especially with his age and injury history, especially his knees. This was not Jacobson’s first knee issue, but it was his first serious injury as a pro. The sample size with AJ is much smaller, but there don’t appear to be any concerns with him going forward. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Hernandez.
How quickly will Blas Perez have an impact up top?
First off, some well-deserved credit to Hyndman and the rest of the FCD powers that be for bringing in the man known as “Super Raton” in the first place. He is the kind of veteran and dependable presence that this club has needed up top almost since Hyndman arrived. Schellas had Kenny Cooper at striker when he arrived but Perez has a much longer career and more proven track record than KC. Expecting Perez to score 15 goals, and add between seven and 10 assists, is far from too much to ask from this talented veteran.
Verdict: Resounding, Perez is the forward Dallas has been needing ever since Jeff Cunningham left two seasons ago. Now the only big question is can some of what he has rub off on teammates like Ruben Luna, Jonathan Top or maybe even Fabian Castillo, who could start up top or at right mid depending on what formation Hyndman opts to go with.
Who will start at center back alongside Ugo Ihemelu?
When George John went to second-division English side West Ham United in mid-January, few knew how things would turn out for the affable center back across the pond. As we all know now, John didn’t get a ton of run with the Hammers but did gain some invaluable experience in training, which should help him now that he’s back with FCD. John and Ihemelu have developed a strong partnership over the last few seasons, one which should continue. Backup Hernan Pertuz performed well in his absence but the clear language barrier between the Colombian newcomer and Ihemelu is definitely an obstacle. Rookie Matt Hedges has already shown some flashes in his first two months of pro soccer but it’s way too soon to determine if he can be counted on as a rookie.
Verdict: Resounding, getting John back is absolutely huge for FCD but had Big George not come back from England, Dallas would not have been in as dire straits as many think. Pertuz gives them some much-needed depth in the central defense, something that was at a premium last year. And if John gets injured or misses time, he could definitely step in. Hopefully John and Ihemelu are healthy for the entire season, which is a possibility, but if Hyndman needs to call on Pertuz and maybe even Hedges a bit later in the season, both figure to be ready.
The year was 2009 and after playing 13 games in what was FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman’s first full season on the job, a season where Benitez contributed one assist, the 33-year-old Colombian defender has become a fixture at left back.
Benitez comes off a 2011 season where he played in 27 games, including 25 starts and chipped in three assists. Sure, there have been several notable mental lapses for this talented South American, namely several red cards, but other than that Benitez has been a consistent and durable presence on the left side of the Dallas back line. That alone says a lot considering MLS is a league where constant player turnover is the norm.
“Time’s gone by really fast but things are going really well. I hope that this year goes really well because I like being here and like being part of this team,” Benitez said through a translator. “I think we have a good chance to win a championship.”
FCD’s starting left back got a contract extension in 2010, a deal that wasn’t made public until last season when Hyndman said his dependable starter was locked in for several more years.
Almost ever since he arrived in Frisco, Benitez quickly developed a friendship with fellow Colombian David Ferreira, the 2010 MLS MVP, as well as with midfielder Marvin Chavez, who was dealt to San Jose late in 2011. In fact, the bond between this talented trio was so strong that they earned the fitting nickname of “The Three Amigos”.
So, when the band was broken up with the trade of Chavez to the Earthquakes late last year, it saddened this veteran fullback on several fronts. “I felt bad because he was important for our team. I felt really bad because for one, he was a really good player but also, he was really close with all of us, not just me,” Benitez said. “But you’ve got to keep going and we’re going to go on without him.”
As Chavez has moved on to a fellow member of the Western Conference, Benitez has seen two players he knows quite well join FCD over the last few months. The first is Panamanian-born striker Blas Perez, someone who Benitez knows from their time as teammates with Deportivo Cali in Colombia’s top flight. “I’d already played with Blas in Colombia at Cali and now he’s here. I’m really glad he’s here and I really hope it works out for him here,” Benitez said. “Well, I think he’s just a little bit more experienced [now than when we were teammates before]. He played a little bit in Europe but now he’s over in the MLS. I just hope he does well here.”
Benitez is also pretty stoked to see another Colombian join the roster in recent addition Hernan Pertuz, a talented center back from his home country. “I’m happy for him. I think he’s done really well in Colombia but this is a different league and I think now that he’s here he’s going to do really well,” Benitez said. “I hope that he does but I feel it’s good to have more Colombians on the team, so that’s a good thing.”
A member of the FCD team that played in the franchise’s first-ever MLS Cup just two years ago, that’s an experience Benitez wants to repeat, but this time he wants to come out on the other end of the equation as part of the team holding the championship trophy. “We’re feeling good as a team. We’re getting ready for the season and we really want to win a championship this year,” Benitez said.
How do you feel about this year’s draft pool?
Hyndman: I think it’s a good pool of players with different varieties as far as positions. I think when the 11th pick comes around, I feel like there’s going to be a player that can help us. We’re looking more than likely at getting some support and more balance in our team.
What do you see as your side’s biggest need right now?
Hyndman: I think right now, it’ll probably be in the defense. It could be a center back. It could be a right back. It could be a left back. It also could be a flank midfielder. I think that’s where we’re probably focusing. Then there’s the other thought of do you select the best available player?
With the recent signing of Blas Perez, is it safe to say that you won’t be taking a forward at No. 11?
Hyndman: I think we’ve worked awfully hard in that area. We’ve got Blas Perez and we’re working very hard on another international striker or another striker. And I think we’ll have that covered and that may not be the area that we’ll need the balance in. If one of the best strikers did become available, I think we’ve got to look at it seriously.
Speaking of Perez, do you expect him and fellow newcomer Hernan Pertuz to be in town in time for the start of preseason early next week?
Hyndman: Yeah, we hope so. A big thing with international players is getting their P-1, getting their passport, visa and everything in place. If they’re not there, I think they will be there shortly.
Is there any update on the George John situation?
Hyndman: Right now, that’s still up in the air.
Are you ready for the start of preseason?
Hyndman: Yeah, there’s not much of a break, is there? We start on Monday. I think the final’s on Dec. 1. It’s going to be a long season. Yes, I know we’re ready. I know all the coaches in the league are ready. We’re hoping our players are ready.
How has the draft process changed without Gorman being involved?
Hyndman: Barry was a big part of helping us identify players throughout the college season. His reports and recommendations were very helpful up to the draft. But once we get to the draft, it’ll be our coaching staff, Doug Quinn but we also have a competition committee that meets regularly, about every week. There’s Clark Hunt, Dan Hunt and Jimmy Smith, who’s our chief financial officer. We’ll meet every week to discuss players, allocation money, the financial side of it, salary cap, draft, trades, acquiring players. Barry was a part of that until he moved to college recruiting. Now we’re in the process of trying to identify a very good technical director that can help us in that full process. That person will not be on board by the time the draft takes place, but we wanted to really take our team and try to find the right person.
With just one pick in this year’s draft, do you feel any added pressure to hit a home run with your only choice?
Hyndman: No, not really, there’s always the pressure of getting the right person. I think soccer wise, you spend a lot of time identifying players and during the combine, you’re trying to see if what you’ve identified meets the level of competition. And then you try to project how that player might be fitting into your team. When is he going to get on the field? Is it this year? Is it a reserve role? Is it a starting role? A lot of work goes into that but the biggest part is really doing the background check on the person’s character, work ethic and team chemistry. Those are the things that we really don’t want to miss on.
Is trading up into the top six a possibility?
Hyndman: It was a huge discussion three, four weeks ago. Probably within the last seven days, the discussion has gone to no, we’re probably not going to do it. And I think a big part of it is we still think we’ll get a good player on the 11th pick. I want to say good player, somebody that’s going to be able to contribute to the team and the team’s needs.
Have you finalized what players you’re going to bring in for preseason yet?
Hyndman: Yeah, we’ve got a few trialists coming in. We’ve got Scott Sealy coming in from San Jose. His option wasn’t picked up at striker and then we’ve got a boy coming out of Canada who has U.S. citizenship, his last name is Horton. And then we have the boy we put on our Discovery List and has been with us, Chris Ispienza. I can’t pronounce his last name. We’ve got a couple more that we will be able to look at to see if they are going to be able to contribute to our roster.
Do you feel pretty good about how your roster is shaping up heading into preseason?
Hyndman: Yeah but there’s always little thunderbolts here and there with players’ injuries or players’ mentality, but I think the key part for us is getting David Ferreira back and getting him into a leadership role and getting his confidence to where he can contribute to the success of the team this year.
This year marks your fourth draft. How do you think your approach has changed if at all since that first draft you had back in 2009?
Hyndman: I think our approach has always been to be fair to kind of do a mock draft of where we think we’re going to end up with players. Then, we look very closely at the opposition and kind of think what their needs might be. All of us here probably pick the first six that are going to go in the draft because they’re pretty exceptional. Those are the six that every team would want because they probably are gifted enough to help immediately. The next six, there’s probably going to be a lot of movement. There could be some surprises. Somebody could have done really well at the combine that we didn’t rate prior and all of a sudden, that person sticks out. I think the big thing for us is to just be prepared, which we are and then to go into it with some scenarios of who do we think will be available at our draft pick. Right now we’ve got for the 11th spot, we think four players potentially could be available. We list those four players if all of them are available, who’s our No. 1 pick, our No. 2, our No. 3 and our No. 4. Those top six, we’re not going to get unless we move up. When we get to the pick and one of those four are available, we’ll go ahead and make that decision to take that player. We’ve really done our homework and we’re prepared for it.
You mentioned Perez might not be the only forward you add. Discuss.
Hyndman: We’re trying to add another forward whether it’s an international or another player in the league. This is an area that we think we couldn’t deal with this past year. We did everything right but in front of the goal we didn’t score enough. The second thing is we had to move people around to try to get some speed into the attack whether it was Jackson, Chavez, whether it was Castillo. We were looking for a striker, a Santos. We kept trying to find that player that was the right forward. And then you have to understand we’re sitting in a situation where Blas Perez will probably be getting call-ups from the national team. So even though he’s on your roster, you’re paying him and he’s your forward, there’s going to be plenty of times he’s probably not with us. So, for security purposes, call-ups or whatever, we need more than one forward that we can really count on. And we’re hoping for a breakout year from Ruben this year.
Last season, Jackson logged minutes in the back, midfield and even played up top, a sure sign of how forward deficient this club continues to be. Club gaffer Schellas Hyndman always said he likes guys with versatility but that can also come at a price in that they can’t settle into one particular spot on the pitch and really call that position their own.
Now it looks like Jackson has a full-time position at right mid where Chavez used to roam. But this development does beg one pretty interesting question to be asked: is FCD expecting too much from Jackson and do they trust him too much?
Jackson is coming off a 2010 that can best be termed as inconsistent. There was the whole lack of "emotional intelligence" on several occasions with cards that proved to be very costly. Then there was the whole wedding thing where he basically told the team he would be missing the New England game because he was getting married without consulting any of the powers that be beforehand.
None of those instances helped him as far as his relationship with Hyndman. Still, the gaffer put him out on the field time and time again, so maybe the lack of trust between these two is higher than it’s ever been. Then again, the soccer sensei also probably realized that as rocked as his club was by injuries in 2011, he didn’t really have much choice but to put Jackson out there even if there were some trust issues from his end.
But to his credit, Jackson did apologize to his teammates after he had returned from his wedding back home, which was what he should have done. For the year, he played in 28 league matches, including 22 starts and netted four goals with a pair of assists.
When his head is in the game and there are no distractions surrounding him, Jackson can play. He has the level of pace this club needs, can deliver a pretty high-quality ball from the flanks and most importantly, he can finish opportunities more often than not. Just as good Jackson is something to behold, whenever his alter ego, the evil, goateed Jackson, makes an appearance, it’s often enough to have not only Hyndman and his staff but FCD supporters just bury their heads in their hands and wonder what just happened.
Maybe now that he’s married, the nonsense from last year will be just that the club will hope, a thing of the past. And if that is indeed the case, then Dallas backers will quickly forget about the speedy and affable Mr. Chavez. But until Jackson can show a bit more emotional intelligence and be a more consistent player instead of a true wildcard every time he steps between the lines, he will be just that, a question mark for this thing going forward.
And in another development we all knew was coming, club president Doug Quinn announced that Barry Gorman would not be back as FCD technical director for 2012 (a move we reported back in November). More on Gorman and who they could look at to replace him in another piece, but here are several thoughts on the Chavez deal, some good, some bad and some are downright perplexing.
Maybe Hyndman Saw More Early Dominic Oduro in Him than Anything
First off, this isn’t a shot at former FCD striker Dominic Oduro, one of the all-time good guys to ever play here, but when he was here he was all pace and no finish. Chavez definitely did his best Oduro impression for much of 2011 and it wasn’t until head coach Schellas Hyndman called him over the summer that Chavez finally got it together. For the year, Chavez finished with six goals and four assists in 31 games, 30 of which were starts. Maybe a big reason why he didn’t have better stats is because for much if not all season long, there really wasn’t anybody finishing opportunities for this thing up top.
Still, as much as he loves pace, Hyndman might have seen nothing more than a fast player who just didn’t make enough contributions on the stat sheet at a position where your success is basically measured by goals and assists more than anything else.
When FCD Didn’t Extend Him, Maybe That Was a Sign
Last season was the year of contract extensions. Among the players that FCD inked to long-term deals were left back Jair Benitez, captain Daniel Hernandez in a player-coach deal, veteran center back Ugo Ihemelu, linking mid Andrew Jacobson, and left mid Brek Shea. Maybe it was the players they didn’t extend that spoke volumes.
Many expected that when Benitez was extended, doing the same with Chavez was all but assured, Yet there was no extension forthcoming for the Honduran-born midfielder. Hyndman is never afraid to put on his mad scientist lab coat and do some tinkering if he saw something he didn’t like. Maybe he did and it’s now clear he felt trading Chavez would be one way he could make this club better.
The Effect to the Room will be Minimal
Unlike the trade of Heath Pearce to Chivas USA last March, one thing that is not behind this Chavez move is not being on the bus. Chavez has never been anything but a model player who came in, kept his head down, did his work and delivered his best effort whether it was during practice or games.
Contrast him to Santos, who got a dental procedure done last year behind the club’s back, Chavez had a dental issue that needed addressing. But instead of doing it when he wanted it done, he consulted with the club. In fact, he and Hyndman agreed that he would get that procedure done during something that was a bit of a rarity for FCD last season, a light week. Chavez did just that and missed only a practice session or two and was ready to roll for the next game.
Some have written that this is a move that could possibly turn the Latin players against Hyndman, but that is simply ridiculous. Sure, Chavez was a popular player but Benitez, Ferreira and the rest of the club’s Latin players have been playing this game long enough to know that’s sometimes the way this sport goes. Teammates will come and go. Benitez and Ferreira, who along with Chavez, comprised FCD’s Three Amigos, will definitely miss having their buddy around, but they, along with the rest of the club’s Latin players are true professionals and they will press on.
This is Only the First Shoe to Drop
Now this one might be the most intriguing. The overwhelming sentiment among Dallas fans after this jaw-dropping move was that Quinn and the rest of the club brass had better have something big up their collective sleeves after trading Chavez. Hopefully it comes in the form of a high-profile addition up top, a dependable scorer, something FCD honestly hasn’t had since the year Jeff Cunningham won the MLS Golden Boot several years back.
But there is a caveat emptor here for FCD when it comes to the fans. This is already a group of supporters who have seen a pair of fan favorites in midfielders Eric Alexander and Eric Avila basically traded away for nothing in the last year. Alexander went to Portland over the summer for Jeremy Hall, a player who was so bad here that Dallas turned around and dealt him the first chance they got. Avila went to Toronto FC where, ironically enough he and Hall will now be teammates, for Santos who now doesn’t figure into the club’s plans.
Dallas fans are saying whatever move or big announcement the club makes make, they had better hit it out of the park. And the fans couldn’t be more right in that statement. Anything but a home run in whatever big announcement FCD makes personnel wise and the natives will get restless to say the least.
“Marvin was always an outstanding player and we certainly will miss him, but this move allows us to better balance our team,” said FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. “We are losing a solid player, but it’s for the overall benefit of the team. We can strengthen our team in both our back line as well as up front where we really missed having that player who could finish the plays we generated up front last season.”
The Honduran international joined FC Dallas in August 2009 on loan from CD Marathon. Chavez, who has 23 international caps, helped his native Honduras to a Copa Centroamericana title in 2011 before enjoying his best MLS season with six goals and four assists in 31 games (30 starts) for FC Dallas. In his MLS career, Chavez has appeared in 54 games, starting 43 and tallying eight goals and six assists. He netted two goals against New York on July 23 and three game-winning goals during the 2011 season.
“We hate to see Marvin go, but this move is giving us the freedom to make much-needed improvements to the whole,” said FC Dallas President and CEO Doug Quinn. “As coach said, this trade gives us the ability to sign players who will fill some pretty big gaps. If fans will be a little patient over the holidays, they can expect exciting announcements soon on moves that are going to make FC Dallas a stronger squad in 2012.”
Before joining FC Dallas, Chavez played two seasons with CD Marathon in 2008-09. He tallied 11 goals and 11 assists during that time and scored the game winner against D.C. United to propel his side into the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.
From 2005 to 2008, the speedy winger had 23 goals and 17 assists while suiting up for his hometown club, CD Victoria, of the Honduran top division.
Each MLS team will submit a list of 11 protected names that coach Jesse Marsch and the expansion Montreal Impact can't draft.
In addition automatically protected are all the Home Grown and Generation adidas players. CD currently has eight of them: Josh Lambo, Andrew Wiedeman, Bryan Leyva, Ruben Luna, Victor Ulloa, Moises Hernandez, Jonathan Top, and Richard Sanchez. Any player graduating from Generation adidas (Josh Lambo?) will do so before the expansion draft and won't get automatic protection.
So here's our educated guess at the 11 FCD protected players.
1. David Ferreira - the 2010 MLS MVP. Injured all of 2011. Still a dead solid lock to be protected.
2. Brek Shea - the 2011 FCD MVP and a finalist for MLS MVP. Also a dead solid lock to be protected.
3. Kevin Hartman - The best keeper in MLS the last two years in many minds.
4. Marvin Chavez - FCD's second leading scorer in 2011 as he became the player FCD thought they were getting.
5. Ugo Ihemelu - The defensive leader for FCD. Hyndman raves about Ugo every chance he gets.
6. George John - Hyndman says the transfer thing is all water under the bridge. All it good.
7. Jair Benitez - FCD just gave him an extension. Oh, and speed kills.
8. Zach Loyd - By the end of 2011 the for sure starter at right back and he's even in the US National team pool.
9. Andrew Jacobson - When not injured he was one of FCD's best mids, led FCD is assists.
10. Fabian Castillo - You don't pay what FCD paid for this kid and then let him get taken in an expansion draft.
11. Jackson - Some days he's the best player on the field, some days he's a liability. Just to much talent to let go.
Which leaves a list of 10 names unprotected for Montreal to pick from. FCD could lose one, but only one, of these players. Let's look at each and talk about why I think FCD will expose them.
Daniel Hernandez - The captain and my 2nd place FCD MVP. Yes, he's a vital part of FCD... but he's 34. Montreal would never pick him.
Chris Seitz - A danger to get taken, has been an MLS starter and an expansion team could get a solid keeper here. When you have Kevin Hartman, a 2nd keeper is a luxury you can't afford to protect.
Ricardo Villar - Turned out to be a nice player down the stretch although more production would be nice. Would he start in Dallas if everyone was healthy? No. so he'll be exposed. Another player in risk of being taken.
Maicon Santos - Didn't produce the goals FCD needs up top, but has been a decent player for a couple clubs. A player an expansion team might take a shot on.
Daniel Cruz - Have we even seen what this guy is really like, he's only been in Dallas a short time. Does anyone else even know what he is about? There's just no room for him to be protected.
Bobby Warshaw - A talented young holding mid or defender with a bunch of upside, versatility and soccer smarts. A Hyndman kind of player. But not yet good enough to be protected. It would be a shame to lose him too.
Bruno Guarda - One of Hyndman's boys, but little risk he gets nabbed at his contract number.
Jeremy Hall - Played with an injured groin from the TFC CCL game (and a half) on. For a player who relies so much on pace, a groin injury is debilitating. His contract number means he won't get picked even if someone thinks he might fill out their back line.
Mykel Galindo - Injuries have killed his career. Low risk since FCD is almost certainly gonna waive him anyway. So if you want him just wait for the waiver.
Edson Edward - Out for a year injured, it will be very tough for him to make the FCD roster in 2012. I doubt he would have made it in 2011 if not for the injury.
Chavez finished 2nd in goals for FC Dallas this season with six and tied for 2nd in assists with four.
Last night Hyndman rolled out a 4-2-3-1 to combat New York's 4-4-1-1. New York was clearly concerned about the speed on Dallas’ flanks: Hans Backe elected to play four central midfielders (from left to right Joel Lindpere, Teemu Tainio, Rafa Marquez, and Dax McCarty). Going forward, the tactic worked well for the visitors. The outside midfielders pinched-in (particularly McCarty) and helped link Thierry Henry with Dane Richards, who caused havoc with his darting runs behind center backs Ugo Ihemelu and George John.
Defensively, though, McCarty and Lindpere struggled to defend against the pace of Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea. The Dallas wingers, and fullbacks Zach Loyd and Jair Benitiez, needed only a split-second to find space before sending in their service. Early on, New York was very vulnerable along the flanks.
Hyndman took advantage of the situation by instructing his outside players to send in early crosses. Dallas' gaffer must have seen a vulnerability on film, as New York's backline struggled with the constant early service. This strategy led to numerous scoring opportunities for the Red Stripes.
But, in what has been a theme, Dallas' attackers didn't finish their chances. A 14th minute miss by Chavez and a 40th minute shank by Jackson were the most glaring failures. Jackson's miss was galling; his unmarked header from seven yards wasn't even close to being on target.
The sheer volume of opportunities - Dallas had 14 total shots and 7 shots on goal to New York's 6 and 6 - spoke wonders of Hyndman's tactical acumen, especially since Dallas had a slightly lower percentage of possession (51% to 49%). However, one personnel choice should be called into question. Hyndman's inclusion of Jackson over the more traditional Number 9 Maicon Santos didn't make sense in light of the amount of crosses sent into the box.
Jackson normally interchanges very well with Shea and Chavez, but against New York he stayed in the middle in anticipation of the waves of crosses. The Brazilian demonstrated his lack of a striker's instinct on more than one occasion, notably the 40th minute miss. Santos, a second half sub, had just one opportunity to head the ball toward goal and his effort from outside the box forced Frank Rost to make a save.
Granted, Santos was otherwise anonymous. But that was merely symptomatic of Dallas' problems in the latter half of the season. The front three, particularly the striker, failed to take advantage of excellent build-up and then a series of blunders at the back (John, Loyd, and Ihemelu all made mistakes on New York's opening goal) doomed the squad to a loss. Hyndman may look back on this match as the epitome of his squad's 2011 campaign, promise unfulfilled.
Blake Owen is the editor and publisher of futbolforgringos.com.
When FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman put together his 18-man traveling roster for Saturday’s trip to San Jose, he left off seven starters with good design. One, versatile Brazilian Jackson Goncalves, wasn’t available after he had received his fifth yellow card in a win over Vancouver one week prior.
But the six other starters-midfielder Marvin Chavez, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, captain Daniel Hernandez, defender Ugo Ihemelu, midfielder Andrew Jacobson and flank midfielder Brek Shea, were all left behind to rest up for the playoffs.
For Hernandez and Jacobson, who are both battling knee issues and will most likely need surgery after the season is over, the rest was very welcome. It was also welcome for Shea, who suffered a neck injury in last week’s 3-0 loss to Toronto FC as FCD crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League in truly disconcerting fashion.
However, as FCD returned to the practice field on Monday morning as they commenced preparations for Wednesday night’s MLS Wild Card match with New York, health was no longer a concern, at least for the most part.
“We’ve got a couple of question marks but we’ll do another test tomorrow to see how some players are,” Hyndman said after a short training session on Tuesday morning on the Pizza Hut Park stadium field.
One of the players he’s referring to is Ricardo Villar, a midfielder who suffered a foot injury in the first half of the Toronto game. That injury prevented him from returning to the field for the final half of play.
As for who the second player could be, well that one could be open to speculation. But reading Hyndman’s comments between the lines, it quickly becomes apparent who that mystery man might be. The Dallas manager did single out one player who figures to benefit the most from not traveling to California over the weekend.
“I think probably the one that’s going to get the greatest benefit out of it is going to be Andrew Jacobson because against Toronto, he was really struggling in there at getting any explosion,” Hyndman said. “We get him a shot about every two weeks. We just got him a shot, so he feels a lot better now.”
Shea did have the aforementioned neck injury in last week’s loss to the Reds but he doesn’t appear to have any lingering effects from that issue. Chavez and Ihemelu have been healthy for much of the year.
And it’s a similar story with the 36-year-old Hartman, who has started nearly every game for FCD between the posts this year and is a candidate for 2011 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
“I feel good. It’s been difficult since July 1. We played a game pretty much every three days. I think that with the amount of travel that we’ve done and with the experiences that we’ve had this year, I think there are a lot of lessons there,” Hartman said. “It’s up to us as a group to take those lessons mixed with the character that we hopefully have within this team, we’ll be prepared for tomorrow night and hopefully get a result.”
The veteran keeper has been playing this game long enough to appreciate a short break whenever it comes during the season, especially right before the playoffs. But he also realizes having Saturday’s game against the Earthquakes off came at a price.
“Certainly from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint, it’s OK. When you’re at home watching that on TV, it’s not really something that you’re proud of and you’re excited about,” Hartman said. “We’re a group here. We cheer each other on and we share disappointment. It was a disappointing result in San Jose. It’s nice to be fresh from a physical perspective but there’s really this burning desire to find success.
So, that would leave Hernandez as the logical choice for the other player who could be a game-time decision come tomorrow. Hyndman said it best when he called the Tyler native a true warrior and No. 2 is so tough and tenacious that it takes almost an act of God to keep him off the field, but his knee has been a lingering issue for much of the season. But could it be bad enough to keep him off the pitch against New York? We’ll all find out tomorrow evening.
Should FCD advance past the Red Bulls and face Kansas City in the next round beginning on Saturday night in Frisco, the man in charge admits there could be some issues about his team’s ability to bounce back so quickly for a second game in three days.
“Yeah, I think right now we’re a team that I think can step up for a game. I don’t know how quickly we can recover for the next game,” Hyndman said.
Dallas goes for its third consecutive league victory when it visits the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in the MLS regular-season finale.
Dallas (15-11-7) failed to earn a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals after losing 3-0 at home to Toronto FC on Tuesday, a particularly discouraging finish considering it won its first two group stage games on the road.
"It's disappointing, very disappointing," defender Ugo Ihemelu said. "Play all these extra games, get so close to advancing and just have a complete letdown in the final game. It could have been historic. It could have been something really good for the club, so that's really disappointing."
Dallas cannot afford to let the loss linger. It's tied with Real Salt Lake for third place in the Western Conference with 52 points. RSL, which hosts Portland on Saturday, owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series.
Dallas is trying to avoid finishing as one of the league's four wild-card teams, which would require it to play a play-in game.
Prior to being shut out against Toronto, Dallas recorded two goals apiece in its previous two league wins. Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea scored in a 2-0 victory over visiting Vancouver last Saturday.
Shea's goal was his team-leading 11th, but first in seven games.
"It isn't easy playing so many games, but you just keep trying to work hard and improve in each one," Shea told Dallas' official website. "I started the year off well and hit a rough patch, but hopefully that's behind me now."
Shea might not find it as easy to get opportunities against San Jose (7-12-14) if midfielder Ricardo Villar can't play. Villar left the loss to Toronto with a foot injury, and it's unclear if he'll be able to play Saturday.
Daniel Cruz, who came on for Villar, would likely start in his place.
After facing the team with the worst record in the West last weekend, Dallas will take on the club just above the Whitecaps.
The Earthquakes are 1-2-3 in their last six, with five of those games coming on the road. After winning 2-1 at New England on Oct. 8, they fell 2-1 at Seattle last Saturday.
Jon Busch gave up two goals in the final eight minutes after Chris Wondolowski scored midway through the first half -- his 15th goal of the season.
Wondolowski, last season's Golden Boot winner, trails D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario by one goal for the league lead. Wondolowski has five in the last four games, accounting for all of San Jose's scoring.
"Goal scorers go through hot spells and cold spells," Wondolowski told the Earthquakes' official website. "I'm on a hot one right now."
Wondolowski also had both goals in a 2-0 win over Dallas on March 26. Shea did not play because of a red-card suspension.
Dallas is 2-3-8 in its last 13 matches against San Jose.
Vancouver Whitecaps fans probably don't have much sympathy for the recent struggles of FC Dallas. The expansion squad is just one point away from scraping the bottom of the table, which made them the perfect opponent for Dallas to build on a recent 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire.
Even though the Red Stripes locked up their playoff spot in Chicago, Schellas Hyndman deployed his usual attacking lineup, presumably in an effort to leapfrog Real Salt Lake for third place in the Western Conference. Hyndman used the 4-2-3-1 that has become Dallas' go-to formation for the latter half of the season, though Jackson - as in the Chicago match - platooned for Maicon Santos up top.
Despite the absence of David Ferreira, Hyndman's 1-striker formation has continued to create scoring opportunities. The wing play of Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez - as well as Fabian Castillo and Jackson - often troubles opposing fullbacks to no end. Saturday's starters, Shea and Chavez, were obviously instrumental to the victory, as Chavez scored the opener, with Shea assisting, and Shea picked up the clincher. Both wingers demonstrated excellent skill on their strikes: Chavez dummied Jay DeMerit, a 2010 World Cup participant, and Shea calmly blasted home a half-volley.
Neither winger, however, would be able to cause such havoc without the calculated passes of the trequartista, the attacking midfielder who operates behind the striker. Earlier in the season, a number of players had the opportunity to impress in this position, but Ricardo Villar put a stranglehold on the starting spot at the beginning of August. His intelligent vision and comfort on the ball suck in defenses and let the wingers sneak behind the backline.
Against Vancouver he again showed his quality. Villar produced half of FC Dallas' key passes, services that led to a goal scoring opportunity. And though the Brazilian only completed 67% of his passes, even his unsuccessful attempts showed a willingness to try to break down the defense: all but one of his misses were targeted at a teammate in a more advanced position.
Ferreira's injury tasked Hyndman with the impossible duty of replacing the MVP, but Villar's stellar second half of the season has eased that burden and allowed Dallas' wingers to flourish. He'll need to continue pulling the strings if FCD wants to replicate last season's run to the MLS Cup final.
The win gives FC Dallas (15-11-7) 52 points on the season, equaling the club record for most points in a season, set during the 2006 season.
Brek Shea had a goal and assist on the night, increasing his amazing stats on the year and perhaps makeing a late re-newed case for himself as MVP. On the first goal, Shea headed on a Kevin Hartman outlet to an on-rushing Marvin Chavez who scored with curling shot past Joe Cannon.
For the second goal Shea was the beneficiary of some hard work by Ugo Ihemlu who headed down a loose ball the box for Shea to slam past Cannon.
Kevin Hartman was gain outstanding in net making several key saves. Harmtan fished the night with 4 saves, eaarning his 13 league leading shutout of the year.
Due to a yellow card Jackson received in the 2nd half he will now be suspended for the season final. Again testing coach Schellas Hyndman in terms of his "emotional intelligence," Jackson was instantly subbed out of the game.
FC Dallas is back in action this Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Pizza Hut Park when they face Toronto FC in its final Group Stage match of CONCACAF Champions League competition. That match is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on FOX Soccer.
DAL – Marvin Chavez (Brek Shea, Kevin Hartman) 35
DAL – Brek Shea 54
DAL – Marvin Chavez (caution; unsporting behavior) 38
DAL – Jackson (caution; reckless tackle) 54
FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Jair Benitez, Ugo Ihemelu, George John, Zach Loyd, Brek Shea, Daniel Cruz (Andrew Jacobson 70), Daniel Hernandez, Ricardo Villar, Marvin Chavez (Fabian Castillo 70), Jackson (Maicon Santos 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Jack Stewart, Jeremy Hall, Bruno Guarda.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Marvin Chavez 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Marvin Chavez 2); FOULS: 10 (Jackson 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Jackson 3); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Ricardo Villar 2); SAVES: 4 (Kevin Hartman 4).
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Joe Cannon, Michael Boxall, Jay DeMerit, Mustapha Jarju (Long Tan 57), John Thorrington, Jeb Brovsky, Nizar Khalfan, Shea Salinas (Alain Rochat 57), Jordan Harvey, Gershon Koffie, Camilo (Eric Hassli 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Peter Vagenas, Phillippe Davies, Omar Salgado, Jay Nolly.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Nizar Khalfan 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Nizar Khalfan 2); FOULS: 19 (Gershon Koffie 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Camilo 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Jordan Harvey, Camilo 1); SAVES: 3 (Joe Cannon 3).
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: Adam Garner, Claudio Badea
4th Official: Mark Kadlecik
Time of Match: 1:52
Weather: Clear, 77 degrees
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