Another week has gone by, and another game has been won, further cementing FC Dallas' place as league leaders. While the game had its fair share of issues, mostly in defense, I think FC Dallas can be pleased with their performance. As Drew pointed out in his earlier post, this was as complete a performance as we've seen from Dallas all season long, with a little bit of coaching help to get them over the finish line.
This is where the coaching bit comes in as Schellas Hyndman did a solid job preparing his boys for this one.
Vancouver's strategy was evident in the first half, and it was similar to what Whitecaps fans around the twittersphere/blogosphere expected. The Caps pinged the ball around in the back repeatedly, both long and short passes, in an attempt to get FC Dallas players to chase the ball and as a result open themselves up for a counterattack.
When you see a team staying behind the ball and looking to counter, it's usually for one of two reasons: either they believe they will lose the possession battle, or they are trying to save their legs. FC Dallas seemed to expect Vancouver's bunker and counterattack plan, so why chase them around and play into their hands? They didn't.
Despite Vancouver's tempting efforts, Ferreira and co. refused to chase the ball. The Whitecaps were trying to manage their stamina, a consequence of having an important Canadian Cup match this week against Edmonton. It was not a bad strategy on the Whitecaps' part (saving their legs, hitting FCD on the break), but Dallas anticipated their plans and waited before the ball was well in their half before really pressing. Since they allowed Vancouver to keep the ball in the back, that left Heinemann and Hurtado completely abandoned at the top.
Since we are all about criticizing the coach when he has some confusing or bizarre substitution, we might as well give him credit for anticipating and preparing for Martin Rennie's gameplan. Setting your players up for success is your only job as a coach, and in this game Hyndman did just that.
The Whitecaps noticed their opponents weren't biting, and as a result the Hoops pretty much controlled the half after the 20th minute, with only a few chances falling Vancouver's way. While those chances were of the promising sort for Vancouver, Dallas defenders were (mostly) up to the challenege. Raul Fernandez had a few scary spills, including one cross he failed to retain after he got both his hands on it. That could have been lethal, but luckily it didn' result in a goal.
The game had a few flat-spin moments, namely where around the 70th minute the boys began conceding foul after foul in dangerous areas, but once Castillo was brought on they managed to regain their composure (when has that ever been said?). The dreaded late-game meltdown never materialized, and all fans breathed a sigh of relief.
- The Whitecaps' back line was not particularly in sync, and they couldn't deal with Blas Perez constantly out-thinking them. Perez' most dangerous weapon besides his finishing is his ability to anticipate the play and plan accordingly. His forward-thinking led to several excellent opportunities and also to his goal in the second half.
- In the 16th minute, Jackson's crossed a ball into the Caps box that caught Vancouver completely by surprise, and their backline was slow to respond. Luckily for Dallas, Vancouver's defense did not close down Jackson with enough urgency, a dangerous mistake for any team to make. Look at the amount of space Perez has in front of him in the picture below. He should NEVER have that kind of space. The centerbacks are trying to be careful with Perez, but Rochat took his eyes off him for a second, allowing Super Ratón to get into space. It helps that Cooper is pulling defenders away with him by running away from Blas. It didn't result in a goal, but it's a good example of how Dallas uses Blas effectively alongside Cooper.
- Nigel Reo-Coker's frustrations were evident, especially after the 30th minute. If he expended as much effort running as he did complaining about Dallas players supposed diving he might have had a real effect on the game. He was more or less a paper tiger. His idiotic quote about giving Toros players a reason to go down won't help him when the disciplinary commitee reviews his scissor tackle on Ferreira. The scariest thing to consider is that if David goes down just a bit differently, he could have broken his leg. I don't think anyone will be shocked if Coker gets a ban to go with his yellow.
- Some advice for Coker: Don't shove people to the floor if you don't like being called for fouls. Also, slapping players in the back of the head will not earn you any fans.
- Zach Loyd had another solid night, completing 41 of 53 passes. That's a pretty great ratio, and it's not the only part of his game that shined. He had seven recoveries, three interceptions, 2 clearances and three tackles won. Not bad for an overlapping right back.
- Right around the 60 minute mark Martin Rennie broke down and introduced Darren Mattocks and Gershon Koffie, and the game changed. Jair Benitez in particular got burned several times. It's important to consider that it's not just a matter of Jair showing his age; Mattocks is also really, really fast. Benitez had a good game, but not being to keep up with the league's fastest will hurt him.
- Fabian Castillo had a much better substitute appearance, putting in excellent defensive work to go along with his standard tactic of terrorizing outside backs. There should be nothing but praise for the young Colombian as he put in a great shift on both sides of the field.
- Vancouver owe Joe Cannon a big moose-steak dinner. If not for him the Canadian outfit could have walked away with a humiliating scoreline, closer to 4-0 than 2-0.
- Shots from both a long distance and up close helped keep the Caps defenders honest. Vancouver didn't know where the shots would come from, making defending more of a guessing game for them and keeping space open for Dallas to play into.
- Kenny Cooper had a very solid outing, putting in great defensive work and occupying defenders with his runs, giving Perez and Ferreria some breathing room.
- Ferreira's services were lacking most of the night, with the obvious exception being the corner kick which ended in an own goal. Hopefully Michel will go back to taking free kicks next week.
The win will allow for a nice and relaxing week, one where FC Dallas can focus on shoring up what deficiencies remain on the squad while maintaining a good feeling around the locker room. And while all this winning is fantastic, Hyndman now has to start guarding against complacency in his squad.
Food for Thought:
- Who's your MotM?
- What aspect of FCD's game needs addressing after that win?
- Who disappointed you in this game?