What a surreal night at Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas taking on the European Champions Inter Milan. FC Dallas managed to pack out the place with 19,435 in (announced) attendance to create a great festive atmosphere. As late as a week before the game various sources were indicating tickets sales were not good, but FCD really stepped it up in the last week before the game as sales jumped. Given the scorching heat some no-shows were inevitable and credit should go to both FCD and their fans for the good attendance for a mid week friendly.
I won't get to much into Inter Milan, they aren't really our bit. Plus we already know how good they are. You can read the 8000 media reports about them if you want.
El Bueno (The Good)
- With eight starters in this game that also started the European final, Inter took this match seriously. According to FCD coach Schellas Hyndman Inter asked for last two FCD games on tape to scout. The only Inter players missing from the Euro final were Julio Cesar in net (he played the second half), Javier Zanetti (who is injured), and Wesley Sneijder (who is still on post World Cup recover).
- The heat here in Dallas is a huge home field advantage. I recall, but can't find, a statistical study that said FC Dallas has one of if not the hottest average game temperature in the world. Teams don't want to play and work when they come down here. They all defend deep, sit back and make FCD try and break them down. Inter at least tried to play, but you could see how zapped they were by the heat.
- For me the Man of the Match was Brek Shea. He was FCD's most dangerous player, particularly so in the second half. The entire game he kept running at people and trying to create danger. He also continuously got himself in danger positions. His first touch still lets him down a little now and then, but he's progressing on that and as subtly develops in his game he is going to be truly special.
“Every game he gets better. Every game he plays with more confidence. Today, he had a very good game against a pretty good defense. I think he probably had the most scoring chances of anybody on our team and that’s because he’s putting himself in those positions. He’s not worried about who he’s playing against; he’ll take on anybody at any time.” - Schellas Hyndman
- David Ferreira was again the key player for Dallas. Is anyone out there in MLS this important to their team? He is pure class and above the rest. Touch, vision, composure, grit, and guts. He dictates pace, controls, play, fins players, and creates dangerous opportunities. He is also purely clinical on PKs. What a player.
- Heath Pearce was class in this one. You can see he can mentally handle this level of play with Inter. He's not quite fast enough for such a high level week to week, but it's easy to see why some mid-tier European teams want him. He's the only player in the FCD back four that can pass much at all. Which is a big part of why he leads the team in assists.
- Ugo Ihemlu I thought, for the most part, was excellent. He kept himself tight on Samuel Eto'o all game, basically marking one of the world's best strikers out of the game. The minute Ugo came out, Eto'o got space and scored that cracker of a goal. Ihemelu has the pace and strength to keep up with anyone, when he keeps it simple he's one of the best center backs in MLS. He's gotten over that little blimp a month ago when he was overreaching and is back in top form.
- Eric Avila did himself proud in this game. He had flown in his family after he learned he was starting. He's always had the skill to beat people and score, but if you are going to play for Hyndman you have to bring more and in this one Avila did. Not only did he come back to link play, transition, and manage pace; but he also was playing some good defense both in positioning and darting in to steal away some balls. He created several dangers chances in the first half that way. Avila might get the call this weekend since McCarty is still working back from injury.
“We really wanted him to be a little bit more effective, take a little bit more interest in his career and be more effective on both sides of the ball. I thought he did extremely well not only in his defending [and] holding his shape, but [also in] the amount of times he kept possession and made penetrating runs with the ball.” - Hyndman
- Most of all this game was a positive because FCD rose to the occasion. They didn't come out scared or intimidated and they gave Inter Milan a good game. Milan made seven changes at halftime and even more in the second half. With fresh people looking to impress their new coach Inter could have taken over, but FCD fought, played tough, didn't fold, and held up their end of the bargain.
“I thought they were quite sharp. You could see the difference in terms of physical condition. A lot of them were working very hard and they were working very fast. They also have some quality. It’s a good team.” - Inter Milan Manager Rafa Benítez
- The Lamar Hunt statue is terrific. It's well done and well placed. I think it really adds a little something to the stadium and it a fantastic tribute to Mr. Hunt. Well done by all parties that had a hand in it.
El Camino Central (Middle of the Road)
- I quite like Milton Rodriguez as a player, he's smart, savvy, and experienced. But I don't like him as a high striker. He's not going to stretch defenses or beat people one on one. He's needs to be playing off a #9 using knock downs, flicks, and drop offs to his advantage. Hyndman may need to tweak his side to get Rodriguez running 100%. Except of course you usually don't want to change shapes mid season if you can help it.
-There is a real question to be asked, and I'm not sure well get an answer, about how many tickets were sold at what price levels. Did FCD make any money on this game or was it a loss on the bottom line? Or perhaps was the marketing a publicity worth the cost? Was the announced 19,435 actually in the stands? I don't know, but you could easily have convinced me, it looked pretty darn full from the press box. With a appeared fee of around $900,000 for Inter it was always going to be tough for FCD to make it into the black on this one.
- The new FC Dallas President Doug Quinn was in the house. This was his first FCD event in charge. I got a quick chat with him post press conference, and I mean about 10 seconds quick. Interesting fellow, certainly a large presence in the room. You can't help but notice the guy.
No Tan Bueno (Not So Good)
- I'm still not sold on Jair Benitez Maybe I'm being overly harsh. But I don't think his defending is great, although he does have recovery pace, but his final ball and or cross often leaves a lot to be desired. I'd rather see Heath Pearce over there.
- Cunningham dove to earn the PK. Nice move before that of course, but he's not touched and clearly goes down on his own. Obviously that kind of thing is part of the game, even if we don't like it. Does the ends justify the means? Probably not.
- I'm not sure the $20 parking was a good idea. On one side, as a non-FCD business type said to me... It's a special event, the normal rules don't apply. Costs have to be covered. And Jerry Jones charged $50 to park at Cowboys Stadium for soccer games. Ok, I buy that. But if you are used to free, $20 is annoying. 50% of the FCD lots were empty, I hear there was a LONG line to get into the parking lots because of the delay in paying. The streets and parking lots for a mile around the stadium, i.e. free spots, were jammed full from what I could see.