June 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; FC Dallas defender Jackson Goncalves (6) jumps as Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell (32) kicks the ball in the second half at BBVA Compass Stadium. The Dynamo defeated FC Dallas 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE
They had nearly three weeks to plan for this one and it all came undone in less than three minutes. Calen Carr's service in to Will Bruin was intercepted by Hernan Pertuz, but his clearance went straight off Bruin and into the next, a microcosm of this season's luck.
From there it was all FC Dallas as they pretty much dominated the first half, save for one Will Bruin counterattack chance. Scott Sealy came agonizingly close to scoring with his shot pinging off the post while Fabian Castillo's wonderful work down the left side brought no reward.
Dallas finally got the goal they deserved in the 59th minute as Sealy's shot deflected up in the air and fell to Jackson who buried it past Tally Hall. It was as much as the Brazilian had earned with his man of the match performance for FCD.
Then all hell broke loose and if you're reading this blog you probably already know the rest. With the 2-1 loss to Houston, FCD extends their winless streak to 10 games, tied for a franchise record, with three home games upcoming in the next three weeks.
On the red card Was there intent on the play? Tough to know as it seemed like Jair's head was turned for the whole play, but he's a guy that hasn't really earned the benefit of the doubt. Whether or not it was intentional, it was just not a smart play and possibly cost FCD three vital points. As Schellas said after the game, I'm not sure the team would have won that game but you've got to have liked their chances after equalizing. What a frustrating moment.
Beyond the card Man, it's tough to find a lot of fault with the game from FC Dallas overall. They did something that is very tough to do and that is completely control the run of play in Houston's stadium. While the offense has looked lost in many games this season without Shea, tonight it looked like they had a clear identity and knew what they wanted to do. You can certainly see how the practice helped the team shape and tactics which you have to say were pretty spot on before the red card.
Tactical change with Leyva In my piece on turning things around for FCD, I mentioned that FCD needed to move back to their traditional 4-5-1 diamond with Andrew Jacobson in the middle. Last night they moved back to the 4-5-1 with Scott Sealy as a false nine up top and I think it worked out very well. Leyva wasn't always great. He's not David Ferreira or Ricardo Villar(yet), but you have to give him a lot of credit for getting better as the game went along. Don't discount how important these minutes will be for him heading into next season. He's got the vision, I think he could just do a little bit better by looking around to see where the defense is when he's about to receive the ball as he tends to get pushed off fairly easily.
Brilliant wing play I've been one of the biggest critics of Jackson this year as a guy this team has been counting on who hasn't produced without many of the starters on the pitch. On Saturday night, that was a performance from Jackson that was MLS Best XI quality. He was the Dani Alves I've talked about in the past who is all over the pitch, right side, left side and center. His combination play with Sealy, Castillo and Leyva was brilliant and he always hustled back on defense.
On the other side, Fabian Castillo was very good too. A lot of credit goes to the youngster for rebounding from a knock he picked up midway through the first half that had him signaling for a substitution. What I loved about Castillo's game last night was on multiple occasions rather than trying to run around his man on the outside, he cut inside creating the chance where Sealy hit the post.
Young Core Developing This team has really taken their lumps over the last two months and they have not been good enough, but you can see a young core developing for the future. Of the 10 players on the field at the end, only Hartman, Jacobson, Hernandez and Sealy were over the age of 24. For Houston, just one of their 11 players was 24 or under. It's not ever easy to see the forest for the trees in the middle of a season, but there is lots of reasons to think this team will be very very good in the near future, it's just not happening right now.
Scattershooting Castillo is a sub when Shea gets back, think about that...Can Jackson put together two performances like that in a row?...Hartman still has it...I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity I have writing for MLS, very excited about it...My report from BBVA Compass Stadium for MLS centers around the red card...Will have a review of BBVA Compass Stadium later, hope to get the road trippers thoughts on the stadium in that post as well...Really great showing from the 200 or so FCD fans that made the trip, heads held high after that one.