Dallas Soccer: Seattle
The big storyline was going to be how the team dealt with George John's absence and Zack Loyd's move into that spot, as it seemed that's the teams future, but it turned into something far more worrisome as Loyd was lost early to a hamstring injury and Jeremy Hall was called into very early duty.
Seattle did little to test the back line after they took the lead and spent more time working to deconstruct any Dallas attack - something they did particularly well.
They were helped by Dallas' midfield combination of Hernanadez, Villar and Cruz who obviously are still learning to play together as there were moments of fine, silky play, but turnovers plagued the trio with Villar in particular struggling to find a connecting pass in the final third. It is interesting to consider the number of different combinations Hyndman has tried in these three spots over the course of the season. While Hernandez has been the one constant, the number of people that have filled in the other two is by my count, is at least eight, and somehow the team is still having a quality season.
The latest addition to that mix is Cruz, who looks to be intriguing and was terribly unlucky to have fallen victim of a yellow card that defies any application of the Laws of the Game. It wasn't the only odd call referee David Gantar made but it was the most affecting on the match. Gantar's decision to attempt to control the match by calling it tightly made his ejection of Cruz all the more confusing because of the number of times he had already called that same foul previously in the match the other way.
Brek Shea also had a tough match, and like many of his teammates, looked just a bit off and sluggish as the heat and number of matches must be taking their toll.
On a night looking for answers, what we got were just more questions. Leading the list is the status of Andrew Jacobson. Has he lost his spot, or is his hammy injury worse than thought? How long is Loyd out, and does that effect the front offices decision to sell John? Can Hyndman afford to rest Shea, Ugo and Hernandez who all look like they could use a nap? How does Castillo find a starting spot?
Dallas again, even down a man, impressed with their determination to score and it took stellar efforts from Seattle's Keller and Parke to keep Dallas from leveling the score.
The final third of the season will be fascinating to watch how Hyndman manages this team. He's largely been successful in navigating difficult waters, but three different competitions and the potential loss of his best defender may prove to be the question with an answer on one wants to hear.
Hartman: 6 - That's a shot we're used to see him saving, but that's a quality finish
Jackson: 6 - He is un-nerving at center back as his propensity to commit the bad foul is worrisome
Loyd: I - The ghost of George John's hamstring strikes
Ugo: 6 - Looked devastated to have lost that ball for the goal, but worked to get past it
Benitez: 4 - A very frustrating night fraught with turnovers and odd decision making
Shea: 4 - Seattle's Scott had a successful night defending Shea who never really got into the match
Chavez: 4 - Another that simply lost the ball too much in the final third
Hernandez: 5 - His free kick taking again has disappointed, and gone from a strength to a weakness for the team
Cruz: 5 - Surprising work rate considering he hasn't played in a while
Villar: 4 - Not the quality he had been of late, committed the most fouls of anyone and the most turnovers
Santos: 5 - Seattle worked hard to shut him down and keep passes from reaching him. While the worst of his three appearances, he still is proving to be exactly what Dallas needed from the lone striker position.
Hall: 6 - Give the kid credit. Sure he lost the ball a bit, but did get into the attack and all while just showing up the day prior.
Castillo: 7 - A wonderful spark and almost caught the team on fire
David's play is the stuff that should be driving the remainder of the team to excel and you can see that in Dax McCarty, Daniel Hernandez, George John and Brek Shea. Not sure you're seeing it in Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez, Jeff Cunningham, and Heath Pearce. The latter group seem to be suffering from lapses in performance while the former all look to have taken a page from the Ferreira book of effort and will.
What doesn't take a European "A" coaching license to see is that FCD simply needs a striker, a real, live, in form striker. Harris has done a noble job being asked to play a spot that isn't his natural domain, and while he isn't scoring he at least has had some success holding the ball up and allowing the attack to build.
Of course that is where all of Dallas' good play has been grinding to a frustrating halt where the team has netted only nine goals in its last nine matches. On the good flip, the team's defense has improved and currently is third in MLS with goals allowed.
So, the question is, will Milton Rodriguez be the tonic that cures the scoring woes? How will the much anticipated formation switch to 4-4-2 effect the overall squad as we wonder who is the odd man out. McCarty? Chavez? Shea? Rodriguez's introduction will come after a few weeks of being and playing with the squad, so its not unfair to have some expectation that he can be more of an immediate help, which surely Ferreira is praying for as he knows he can't continue to do this alone.
This Saturday, Real Salt Lake will give Dallas a great test to see what the new setup is capable of and if more newer, better parts are needed. Plus, Jason Kreis will be showing off his 'bling', justifiably rubbing it in just a little.
Hartman: 8 - What a nice roll the vet is on and has been pretty good at being there when the back four switch off at the wrong time.
Benitez: 4 - A very up and down season, and against Seattle it was more down than up. Lots of bad passing, over committing and that wonderful crossing ability has abandoned him of late
John: 7 - Playing in front of home fans and family rendered Big John a touch flighty and while solid overall, had some really shaky moments (ie: square pass back into own box w/ Montero zeroing in)
Ihemelu: 6 - As Buzz has so accurately stated, the concern here isn't the 1v1 stuff, it's those moments where he appears to have just gone lost - like the Montero goal
Pearce: 5 - Had a night much like his counterpart, Benitez. Both really struggled to keep up with fast wingers darting to the end line
Chavez: 5 - Not much of a factor and still looks to be depending on pure speed more than skill, tactical smarts or chemistry with the team
Shea: 7 - Grade might smell high, but lately I have to admit that the kid looks to have toughened up and be more determined than ever to "win his 50's." There is so much potential there, its great fun watching him learn on the job
Hernandez: 7 - If you take the entire season into consideration Daniel is the leader in the team MVP clubhouse, but he's not a scorer which is why Ferreira's currently grabbing the spotlight. Daniel's toughness and discipline is a large part of the defensive improvement
McCarty: 6 - The little ball of fury has also been a touch wobbly in the last few matches, but you can never fault his work rate. His passing completion ratio from match to match is very inconsistent and you wonder if he is the one that loses out in a 4-2-2 setup
Ferreira: 9 - That strike alone gives the guy a +1. Such high praise must be given to a guy that has refused to allow the MLS thuggery to defeat his small stature and instead is finding ways to just "get it done"
Harris: 6 - see above
Cunningham: 5 - meh
1 -- An acceptable performance from FC Dallas Sunday night. They were completely overmatched for the first 30 minutes and the better team for the rest of the match. Credit to FCD for weathering the storm from a young and hungry Seattle lineup and getting a huge road point in the end.
2 – What a contrast of low scoring games we saw Sunday in Seattle and Johannesburg. Show your buddies who may have gotten into soccer during the World Cup that FCD game to see just how exciting a low scoring game can be.
3 – David Ferreira is a man. You’ll be hard pressed to find a player that means more to his team anywhere in the world. It would be easier to express just how important he is to FCD by seeing a lineup without him, but then he hasn’t missed a start since arriving here at the beginning of last season.
4 – A very impressive starting debut performance from Seattle’s Miguel Montano before a moment of madness erased it all. Montano came out of the locker room like a bat out of hell, giving FCD’s left back Jair Benitez all sorts of trouble. However, Montano lost his head, like you might expect an 18 year old to do, and gave FC Dallas the advantage they needed to grab a point with his rash swing at Brek Shea.
5 – New England’s 2-0 win over league leading LA Galaxy was as head-scratching a result as we’ve seen this season. A team that had scored in one their last seven league games puts two past a team that had allowed five goals all season. I wouldn’t read too much into the result, New England is still terrible and Los Angeles is still the team to beat, but for those who want to bet on MLS I present exhibit A.
6 – It’s great to see Matt Reis’ gum-smacking, hard-nosed, bald-headed face back in MLS. It could be next season before he’s back to his regular form, but it’s not the same to watch a Revolution game without Reis between the pipes.
7 – While it’s not terribly surprising to see Houston struggling, given their failure to replace Stuart Holden and losing Geoff Cameron, what is surprising is their problems are at the back. The Dynamo, who has led MLS in goals against the last three seasons, has allowed 22 goals in 16 games this season. While that’s not a disaster of a total, it’s just seven goals off their entire tally from last season and without a stout defense, Houston can’t hope to go anywhere this year in the playoffs.
8 – Don’t forget about Superliga starting this week. Sure, it’s not what it was, but it’s some decent soccer in the middle of the week. Brush up on your Spanish and turn the dial to Telefutura (keep it on ESPN the rest of the day) for some decent soccer. The full schedule is at www.superliga2010.com.
9 – Can someone please get the memo to Jordan Harvey that you don’t let Arturo Alvarez cut onto his left foot?
10 – Seriously, it’s MLS defending 101 that when Arturo Alvarez is running at you, he finishes like Arjen Robben when cutting onto his left foot and Chad Barrett when cutting onto his right. For a defender to allow Alvarez onto his left foot in a tied game heading into stoppage time is inexcusable and Philly paid for it.
11 – Cure the soccer hangover that hits us all on the week after the World Cup by heading out to Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night. The reigning champs from Salt Lake are in town for a huge conference match up with FC Dallas. Come out and see what moment of brilliance David Ferreira will pull off next.