FC Dallas & Portland Timbers Share The Spoils

FRISCO, TX - MARCH 17: Blas Perez #9 of the FC Dallas celebrates after scoring against the Portland Timbers during the MLS match at FC Dallas Stadium on March 17, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

FC Dallas and Portland Timbers played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night at FC Dallas Stadium in front of 12,203 people. Once again, Dallas jumped out to an early lead as Blas Perez tapped home a rebound off a Bryan Leyva blast in the 22nd minute. The home team generally held the run of possession in the first half, with better chances, but Schellas Hyndman decided to pull off Leyva just before halftime in a curious move that brought in George John to center back, moving Hernan Pertuz to left back and Jair Benitez to right midfield.

In the second half, the Timbers equalized in the 51st minute as Darlington Nagbe pounced on a Daniel Hernandez error that put the forward in on goal and he made no mistake sliding the ball under Kevin Hartman to level things. From there, the Timbers looked the more likely side to grab the winner with Kris Boyd hitting the post, but the goal never game and the teams shared a point that neither side will be too disappointed with.

A few snap judgements after the jump and post-game quotes from FC Dallas and Portland Timbers players and coaches

Before you read these, let me mention that I will watch the match again tomorrow and probably post some more thoughts, these are just a few things floating around in my head.

The Leyva substitution I think this is pretty much all everyone is going to be talking about this week. Bryan Leyva was handed a shock place in the starting lineup for this one and overall had a nice game. He did what he does which is provide a ton of punch and uncertainty to defenses going forward, while not quite doing enough work on the defensive end. Hyndman chose to sub Leyva out for George John just seconds before halftime, curiously, and I thought it was not necessarily the right move.

While I don't really have a problem with Schellas taking him out at halftime, due to the fact that you're protecting a lead and that's not really what Leyva does, to substitute one player out and move three guys around the pitch as he did with Benitez, Pertuz & John, is basically saying you don't think your team can score another goal. Substituting Wiedeman in would have provided more possession and balance at right midfield while not disrupting the team shape and chemistry too much. If you think you need the size of George John back there then simply do a straight swap for Pertuz. Jair Benitez was having a fantastic game at left back and moving him to right midfield was basically mortgaging what seemed to be a budding partnership between him and Carlos Rodriguez who had no chemistry with Pertuz.

In short, it's not the substitution of Leyva that I have a problem with, it's disrupting the entire team chemistry to move one guy off of the field. Dallas was not the same after he came out, not necessarily because Leyva was that great, but because the team was playing a starting XI that they've probably not done the entire pre-season once the Mexican came out.

When did Schellas start coaching scared? I think Schellas Hyndman is a very very good coach. He has assembled a starting XI that can compete with the rest of the league and has improved the team depth vastly in the off-season. That being said, he has coached these first two games scared. Once FCD got the lead, every sub and in-game tactical move has been defensive. Did Schellas think one goal would be enough tonight and Dallas should close up shop with 45 minutes left? I'm only curious because this is the opposite of the way Hyndman has coached in all his time in Dallas.

I will give the caveat that his hand was very forced tonight with the absences, but to use just one substitution for fear that fresh legs could disrupt things and lose the point they had is scared coaching to me. Dallas had Andrew Wiedeman that would've provided much more offensive spark than Jair Benitez while Bobby Warshaw could've covered much more ground late in the game than Daniel Hernandez. Dallas should never so obviously play for a draw at home, no matter the opponent or scenario.

A ton of positives Now that I got all that out of my system, let me say that four points at home from the first two games is absolutely an acceptable total, especially given the absences. When Shea, Castillo and Ferreira return(two of them could be back as soon as next week), it's going to open up space for everyone and this thing will get going very well. The three guys that started today, Villar, Rodriguez and Leyva, will be the substitutes when everyone is healthy which means you have guys coming off the bench that can make a real impact. For Dallas right now, it's about managing these next two games in KC & DC, trying to nab a few points, and returning back to Big D with everyone healthy and ready to go. We got a glimpse of this team at nearly full speed in Orlando and the time will come where everyone is finally on the pitch together.

Very encouraged by the crowd I have to admit, I was worried at about 6:30 it would be a pretty small crowd tonight, but once everyone got settled into their seats I thought it was a very nice crowd. The number of 12,203 is obviously not where you want it to be compared to what some teams are doing, but when you consider that is almost 1,200(10%) higher than the second home game last season(played the weekend after the home opener), it's a number to be very happy about. I also thought the crowd was very into the game and when you put the stars on the pitch of Brek Shea, Fabian Castillo and David Ferreira, the place is really going to get hopping.

Now to watch the game again tomorrow...

Quote Sheet Provided by FC Dallas

FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman

General thoughts on the game…

I felt we started off well, thought the first 20-25 minutes we did a lot of things right. Ricardo was getting a lot of touches on the ball. At halftime we talked about how Portland would try to add a little more steam and play rough. It was a good result for us considering we were without three of our most important attacking phase players: Fabian Castillo, Brek Shea and David Ferreira. I was really pleased with the effort the boys put in. I was very happy we fought all the way to the last second.

Thoughts on midfielder Bryan Leyva…

He’s a Homegrown player. He has been with us three years and this is the first time he played any minutes. We all felt like he did a very good job, but we may not be able to dodge that bullet if we did not get George John on the field.

Thoughts on the second half…

I just think we are very thin right now. I didn’t want to put a player late in the game and have him try and get into the rhythm of the game. That is why we only used one substitution.

FC Dallas midfielder Bryan Leyva

On his first start…

I felt great. I was happy and excited to get the start. It's something we all look forward to and I was ready and focused. It wasn't expected. I was in the training room getting treatment and coach came up to me and said to be ready and that I was going to start.

On the shot that led to Blas' goal...

I was running forward and I saw Carlos [Rodriguez] was going to cross it early. Since the field was wet, I knew there was a chance the ball might slip and come back to the second post. I was able to get there. I shot it first time across and really thought it was going to go in because the field was wet and it was bouncing. Fortunately, the keeper saved it towards Blas [Perez] and he put it away.

FC Dallas midfielder Andrew Jacobson

General thoughts on the game…

It was a tough game. They are a much-improved team, especially on the road. They have a lot of athleticism. They know what they do well and they come in and do it. They make things difficult. I don't think we had our best game. We played a little bit into them and started playing their game a little bit, but we were missing some big players and we needed other guys to step up. There's a lot to take away from that for sure. Guys worked really hard. Everyone gave their all and no matter what happens, that's something that will drive you throughout the season because you're not going to play well every game.

On the team's defensive effort...

Even when we make adjustments, guys just have a really good understanding of what we're doing defensively. Everyone did a good job defensively.

FC Dallas Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman

On battling against the wind…

We were playing against the wind the entire time. We were trying to clear it, trying to get more possession-oriented and they continued to step up. They have some big guys in the back, so anything that we were knocking long, they were able to win those balls. They have some ridiculous athleticism in the midfield. They were picking up a ton of second balls and they continued to come at us. We battled. We had a couple of opportunities there. They probably had more of the opportunities in the second half and I hate to blame it all on the wind, but certainly, we had more of the opportunities in the first half. So, probably that had a bit to do with the wind as well.

Portland Timbers Head Coach, John Spencer

General thoughts on the game…

We dominated for a long period of time in the second half. The difference between the first half and the second half was that we started to believe in ourselves. We started to play a little more up tempo, but then I also think our guys got a little fatigued at the end.

Thoughts on the season so far…

It has been a good start to the season. We played two quality teams and if our guys believe in themselves as much as me and my coaches do, we’ll make it two playoffs.

Portland goalkeeper Tony Perkins

General thoughts on the match…

The last 15 minutes of the first half we really started getting possession and momentum for us. We had a lot of chances on goal and maybe on a better day it goes our way. The second half with the wind at our back, especially with that kind of wind, it helps. You are able to get out of your own half with a long ball.

On playing against FC Dallas…

We knew they were going to come right at us and we wanted to turn it right back around and take it back at them. Obviously, we didn’t do that at the beginning, but we weathered the storm pretty well at some times at other times we did not.

On the difference between the team last season and in 2012…

There is a big maturity level increase this year as compared to last year. Last year we had almost the same start. They come flying at us and we walk into the half you know not even having touched the ball really. If they are pressing and pressing you don’t want to play the ball right back to a guy who’s been running for the last 15 minutes. It’s just taking the wind out of the play putting your foot on the ball and getting it up.

Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe

General thoughts on the game…

Everyone came out with a lot of energy. It’s as simple as that. The first half we didn’t has as much energy. When we play with energy we play well as a team. We had more energy the second half. Guys were buzzing around a little bit more after the first 30 minutes. We just came out there with more energy with them and we controlled the game.

On the goal…

I just saw the ball go up while I was dropping back. Once it hit the other team I knew I was onsides, so then I just tried to finish. I was in the right place at the right time. It was nothing special. There was no one in front of me it was just me and the goalie.

On team this year…

Guys are more mature. Before we even came on the road, guys are playing more together. We are a better team this year.

Portland midfielder Eric Alexander

On the team this year…

The focus is a little higher [than last year] as well as our belief in each other. We have a talented group of guys who can get it done on the road. There are still better games to come.

On the season so far…

We took four points from teams that made the playoffs last year, so we’re pretty happy. It would have been nice to win. It’s a good result for being on the road.

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