Sometimes soccer is just a mean son of a...well you know. Last night's 0-0 draw for FC Dallas against Chivas USA was just one of those nights that you can't get excited by, even with the shutout. Fans came for fireworks can left feeling empty handed on the night.
I'll start with the few positives though to at least feel somewhat good about the night. I am after all, a glass half-full kind of guy.
Keel shines in his first minutes. People have asked time and time again, 'why did FC Dallas go get Stephen Keel?' or 'will Keel ever get any minutes with the club?' or other similar questions to that. Last night proved why the team put trust and money in Keel. Not only is he a cheap option to have as your fourth or fifth player at center back but he's a quality player that proved it last night.
Keel was comfortable on the ball, worked very well with Matt Hedges and even bailed out his team a few times on the night when Chivas was pressuring.
To have a cheap option like Keel is a good thing to have. George John needs a break from time to time, and he and Hedges both get banged up time and time again on the season. Walker Zimmerman is also in that boat with injuries at the moment so that makes Keel all the more valuable. Last year, Dallas learned their lesson hard on the defensive depth front when John and Ugo Ihemelu went down with injuries. Keel was a better option for this season and proved it last night.
Shutout for the defense. Hey, last night was Raul Fernandez's sixth shutout of the season. That isn't a bad thing at all. But it also meant that the defense was under a lot of pressure. Fernandez had seven saves on the night which meant the team wasn't keeping the ball well in their defensive third.
Fernandez was voted the player of the game by the fans in the stadium and Hyndman praised that vote but also offered up a pretty good quote after that.
"Raul made some outstanding saves," said Hyndman. "He was selected Man of the Match, which was great for him, but it's a sign that showed how much we were under pressure."
Still, a shutout is a shutout. I don't like that the team didn't score on the night but I am happy to see that they also didn't allow a goal either after giving up seven goals in the month of June.
A thought on Zach Loyd. I know some folks love him and I do too but honestly, looking at his season this year, he's not doing that well. Last night was another example of how rough of a year that he's having. Time and time again he either had a sloppy pass forward that left Jackson or Michel out to dry or he was caught out of position.
Loyd is in a contract year which means he needs to put up or shut up. Right now he isn't putting up enough to even make me want to keep him around long term. I know this may come as a shock to you all but I honestly don't see him here next season with the way he is playing at the moment. Young guys like Kellyn Acosta and London Woodberry are right behind him in the pecking order and it wouldn't shock me to see one of them get some minutes over Loyd at some point this year if his play doesn't pick up.
It is a tough reality but Loyd isn't going to be a cheap guy to keep around either. But I may go more into this on another day.
Not making the most offensively. A 0-0 draw usually means you missed out on a few chances. That was the case last night for FC Dallas. Keel had an early header that went wide. David Ferreira had an open chance in the first 10 minutes that had it gone in would have easily changed the shape of this game into a potential blow out. Kenny Cooper had a header that just squeaked wide. Michel had a free kick that hit off the post and went out. Jackson had a header that went wide in the second half and Perez had a header that forced Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy into his only real save of the night.
Chances were there and the set piece opportunities presented themselves but Dallas just struggled to get anything on Kennedy that really tested him. As good as Kennedy is, he looked so much better last night because Dallas never really tested him.
It seemed as though the final ball just wasn't there as well on the night. Dallas was pushing it wide and getting results but again nothing on frame to really test Kennedy.
I thought the sub choices by Hyndman were good. Bringing on Fabian Castillo was a smart choice but it also meant that the midfield lost some shape when Jackson had to suck into the middle for Andrew Jacobson. I would have liked to have seen Eric Hassli come on a little sooner though, his physical presence could have caused more issues for Chivas late in the game.
Game was too open. The dangerous thing about playing Chivas is that they love to play like Dallas. Or at least that is what Hyndman said afterwards. They're good against teams that like to hold the ball like Dallas and the cause issues with their youthful speed in the midfield. Had Chivas had one playmaker in the middle that wasn't a rookie and a forward that knew what he was doing, it could have been a really tough game for Dallas. Thankfully Chivas is a pretty bad team overall and their talent just isn't at a level that can beat teams outright.
But saying all of that, they were unlucky on the night. They had a couple chances that tested Fernandez and really made the defense work hard due to the openness of the game. Hyndman mentioned that once the game became a fast and open game, it went played to Chivas' favor.
Dallas isn't a team that can handle a truly fast and open game like that without players in the midfield that can hold the ball and keep the pressure off the defense. I thought Jacobson had a decent game but there were times that he just wasn't winning the ball. Or on the flip side it was just a bad pass from Loyd or Benitez that put the midfield under a lot of strain. Jackson was also not playing well on the night, and really he hasn't played well in a few weeks. I'd be all fine with him starting Sunday's game from the bench with Castillo getting the start in his place.