Last night's game had all the hallmarks of a nail-biter: a one-goal lead, a team desperate for a win in Seattle, constant pressure on Dallas' back line and close calls (from the always inconsistent Toledo). The close match makes the victory sweeter as blowouts are fun but rarely causes one to brag about a team's grit or mental toughness, however there is something concerning here.
I can't give Dallas too much flak for defending and holding on to the lead as this is a common road strategy in futbol. I can't give Dallas any flak at all for scoring first on Jacobson's wonderful through-ball to Shea (who demonstrated such composure on a first-touch shot). I will say this though: a team cannot allow so much possession in the final third without giving up a goal. It took a titanic effort by all our back line boys and Hartman to make that a reality and even then the match was just too close for comfort.
Yesterday Daniel and some others pointed out that possession is not as important a stat as it seems and I tend to agree. If the bulk of the possession occurred in the midfield then it would simply mean that the opposing team could not break down the holding midfielders and constantly held onto the ball in an attempt to find an opening. However last night FCD played with fire. How much of the game played out in FCD's final third? It takes all kinds of luck and skill for that amount of possession to not even reward a single goal or at least a penalty kick. This article is written of the top of my head without rewatching the match, but I seem to remember a rather stunning discrepancy in both free kicks taken and corner kicks with that discrepancy favoring Seattle. Some of this has to do with Toledo's completely inconsistent refereeing, but a LOT of it has to do with how little the ball was held by our boys in stripes in the midfield and in their own box.
In Dallas' defense, Seattle has one of the more dynamic attacks in the league and I find it a bit stunning that they are struggling to score. They made sharp passes and found open men and it was all for nothing as the Hoops always made sure a man was charging full speed to cover any missed assignments. Dallas clogged lanes, hassled every Sounder to touch the ball and generally made a pest of themselves. George John is playing at a level that is unreal while Loyd made a second last-ditch clearance that could make save of the week (last year's match at Columbus was perhaps better). I am concerned over the lack of possession but not to the point where I am really worried; Dallas is simply more efficient with its possessions than most teams. This is a situation that can rectify itself and with proper coaching; I'm sure it will with Schellas at the helm. Until then though Dallas is living on the edge. Keep it out of the final third and the threat drops significantly.
Jackson's game last night was a pretty poor showing. Some of it can be blamed on the turf as he seemed to lose his footing a great deal and the ball got away from him often by skidding or skipping but... That would be too simple. While the turf can carry some of the blame most of it falls on Jackson. Too often he would get beat and badly at that on one on one situations. Too often he was overly aggressive in his marking and ended up over pursuing. He tries to do too much at times and it hurts his performance something fierce. With time this also can be fixed and for this reason also I do not yet consider replacing him permanently. However, how can one justify keeping him in the lineup when Zach has been much more consistent? Benitez is coming back soon and that will be a much needed injection of veteran know-how and composure (regarding on the ball play. Temper-wise...)
The Seattle goal from the Blonde Bomber is getting some attention and that can only be a good thing for our budding star. Shea is getting a great deal of national love lately and with his new contract it is really very exciting to watch him develop right before our eyes. With Chavez, Castillo and Shea our front line has an unreal amount of potential waiting to explode: will it occur this year?
Time will tell. On to Houston!
(as a aside note Montero's whining post-game that he isn't getting opportunities are bs. I saw him blow more than a few good chances last night. He can't complain if our defense is beating him.)