HOUSTON - MAY 28: Ugo Ihemelu #3, center, of FC Dallas celebrates his goal in the 70th minute against the Houston Dynamo with Milton Rodriguez #7, Brek Shea #20 and Bobby Warshaw #16 at Robertson Stadium on May 28, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Both teams sent out what amounts to as close to starting lineups as you can get setting up a really nice matchup in the first half. FC Dallas took the lead on a pretty dubious PK call as Blas Perez kicked his boot into a defender on a bouncing ball in the box and somehow earned the penalty. Shea stepped up and buried it to give Dallas an advantage they would hold through halftime.
In the first half with the starters, FCD held the majority of possession with Shea and Perez playing up top in a 4-4-2 that saw Shea basically given a free role to roam around the pitch. Houston was barely allowed a sniff of goal in the first half with Andrew Jacobson impressing in central midfield.
The second half saw FCD pull guys like Shea and Castillo in favor of some reserves and Houston nearly tied things up. Another dubious penalty was called, this time on a Zach Loyd challenge against Brad Davis. The former Dallas Burn player, however, was stoned on his PK attempt by Kevin Hartman. Davis would nearly tie the game on the only other major scoring chance of the second half as a Hernan Pertuz errant pass allowed Cam Weaver a free cross to Davis whose flick crashed off the crossbar with Ugo Ihemelu brilliantly clearing the ensuing rebound off the line.
The Dallas reserves held on well defensively against a strong Houston attack to keep the clean sheet and earn 3rd place in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Dallas returns home today with just a week to prepare as MLS First Kick hits FC Dallas Stadium next Sunday, March 11 at 2PM against New York Red Bulls.
Read on for game observations including something that's troubling
A very nice first half performance I thought FC Dallas had a very competent first half against a strong Houston team that came to play. There are no friendlies when these two teams meet and while the Dallas penalty kick was a pretty silly call, the 1-0 lead at halftime was very deserved. I was particularly impressed with the back four who never gave the Houston attack even a sniff of goal.
4-4-2 with Brek Shea at forward It was interesting, I'll say that. It's the same formation Dallas has been playing but Hyndman inserted Shea into the role he had been giving to Fabian Castillo. Personally, I think I prefer Castillo in that free role playing off Perez as you don't lose much crossing punch on the right to insert Wiedeman. The problem with moving Shea into the free role is two-fold: one, I don't think he plays as well with Perez and two, Carlos Rodriguez is showing to be very competent defensively, but you get almost no offense out of him, not nearly as much as you get out of Wiedeman on the right. It's an interesting idea though.
The biggest problem I see with this team Yesterday was as close as you're going to see to an MLS game situation lineup and the second half was pretty abysmal offensively from Dallas. Defensive depth is not going to be a problem at all for FCD, especially with the return of George John, but offensive depth is just not there, especially in an offensive midfield role. You all know the high hopes I have for Wiedeman and Luna, but the fact still remains that there's not one person Dallas can bring off the bench to insert in the midfield right now that is MLS proven in any sort of capacity.
Trialists I've seen enough of Tulasne. Schellas is giving him a long, hard look based on his decent resume, but the guy just doesn't seem to work hard enough to play on the wing in a Schellas Hyndman system. Perhaps it's an indicator of just how thin FCD is on the wings that he's stuck around this long, but I don't see him coming back to Dallas with the team. I'm willing to overlook chemistry issues, but work rate has nothing to do with chemistry. Last night was my first look at Juan Carlos Enriquez and he wasn't awful. He's a smallish forward that moves around a ton and really was trying to get involved. I'd be interested to see more of him.
No matter the nature of the win It's never, ever a bad thing to beat Houston and everyone on the team deserves a lot of credit for a gritty and hard nosed win. 1-0 wins over Houston aren't an easy task and the back four was nearly faultless all night. Great win and get ready because a week from today it all starts again.
Dont miss Big D Soccer Pub Night at Mad Tavern on Monday, March 12 starting at 7:30. Beer--Soccer--Prizes (Click for more details)