I think it could have been a lot worse last night for FC Dallas. At one point the club had five non-regular starters on the field going for almost the entire second half against one of the league's better attacking teams and they still came away with a point. Sure it was a point at home in a place that they had been unbeaten at so far this season but it was a point nonetheless.
Sure, the result was a bit disappointing in the end. You are at home and are expected to win but giving the circumstances, I think I'll take the point and move on to a D.C. United team on Saturday that hasn't won a game in a long while and is coming off a 4-0 blowout last night. But more on that game in later today and tomorrow on these parts. Time to really dive into what we saw during last night's 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers.
The line up. It was about what we should have expected. No George John. No Jackson who was suspended. And no Andrew Jacobson. The middle of the field lacked because of John and Jacobson but we knew that would be the case coming into this one. Schellas Hyndman elected to go with Je-Vaughn Watson in the midfield for Jacobson, Fabian Castillo for Jackson and London Woodberry for John. All expected moves and for the most part none of them completely hurt the team.
Watson. I plan on writing more about him later if time allows but for the most part it was a tale of two halves for the Jamaican. He was horrible for the large part in the first half, a black hole in the midfield even. But it seems as though once David Ferreira left the game, the midfield opened up a tad more for him to work in. Once again with this guy it comes down to playing in the right position and largely he did well in the second half and was a good part of why FC Dallas battled back. His passing was decent enough and at some points he was helping win balls in the midfield when the club was struggling to do so. I know most of you will hate it but he wasn't that bad.
Woodberry. Another one I hope to have more on today or tomorrow. I thought the rookie Homegrown did very well last night. His passing was a little suspect at first but that has to be part of some early game jitters. He's young so it would be expected. But he held his own very well against some quick attackers from Portland. The Timbers are extremely athletic and for a young guy to get his first start of his career and not cause a goal, that is a good thing. He worked well with Matt Hedges in the middle and while it would be nice to see him on the flanks, it is good to know he can play in the middle when needed.
Bash brothers up front. Once Ferreira went down Hyndman immediately turned to Eric Hassli. For the first time we got to see what it would be like to have a three-headed monster up front with Hassli, Kenny Cooper and Blas Perez. Aside from the few moments that Portland pressed and got a goal, these three worked extremely well together. It felt a little like what San Jose does with their offense. They dump it up to a big guy who lays it off to another striker. That is exactly what these three did with one another last night and it was working pretty well had Donovan Ricketts not had a strong night in goal.
Perez did well shifting roles a bit and moving a little bit back on the field to play the distributor role. He fed off Hassli as much as Hassli fed off him. It was also great to see Hassli battling up front with Portland's defense. I have to say, a goal is coming for that guy, you can really sense it when he is on the ball.
And Cooper, man nice to see him bag a goal on the PK. It was a bit funny how when he stepped up to take it, there was a loud groan in the press box. No one had confidence in him in that spot after the LA game. But Cooper was always going to score on the night. You could just sense it late in the game that he would. I have to say that this could have easily been Cooper's best game of the season.
Castillo. Love the speedy kid but damn, if he could only catch up with his feet sometimes. I joked with someone that he is like Luis Mendoza from the old Might Ducks movies. Just one minor problem, he has a little trouble stopping. Castillo was as active as you would want him to be on the night though. He was a big problem for the Timbers early on. He created some good chances for Perez and Ferreira but just couldn't bag one for himself in this one.
And a bonus thought:
Ferreira. The team, as you would expect, changes dramatically without him on the field. Thankfully his hamstring issue was more of a precaution on him and the team to take him out of the game last night. He'll be a question mark for Saturday's game but my gut tells me he'll still go in this one. Maybe not the full 90 if the game is going well for Dallas but he should go.