The most puzzling sight from last Saturday's match was watching the San Jose Earthquakes decide to park the bus despite having the man advantage. Many, including myself, thought this was a prime time for the Earthquakes to take full advantage of the situation, especially since they were only up by a goal, and try to put the game out of reach by going for the third. In the end though, Mark Watson made a calculated tactical maneuver that not only sealed three points for his team but infuriate Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas and the Dallas faithful all at the same time.
This one obviously felt like a winnable game for the Hoops as they pestered around Jon Busch's goal far more than SJ did to Seitz. Just compare the passing stats in the final third between the two teams after Moffat's red.
First up is San Jose:
17/24 passing. 70.1%. 2 key passes. 1 successful cross.
Then look at Dallas:
29/61 passing. 47.5%. 5 key passes. 3 successful crosses. 14 unsuccessful crosses.
Obviously Dallas had more action around the San Jose goal, but without Blas Perez as a target to connect on those crosses, it was pretty futile to keep launching cross after cross into the box. While it seemed on paper and on the field that Dallas pressing, San Jose had it covered and barring a couple of chances (Loyd and Hedges), Dallas didn't look to threaten for the equalizer.
Taking Away Plan C
Plan A was Mauro Diaz. Plan B was Michel and set pieces. Plan C was bunker and counter with Castillo. Plan D was to hope for the best. This is where Watson outmaneuvered Papi and why he chose to park the bus. Castillo danced his way past three defenders to draw that penalty and in his eyes, Castillo was really the only threat that Dallas had to get points. It's debatable at this point whether Castillo could finish off a fast break counter, but that's besides the point. The point was to take away Dallas' best option to score a goal, and San Jose did that almost perfectly.
11 shots which includes that ill fated penalty. The four in purple as shots that missed the target. Hedges, Luccin and Ulloa had their shots blocked, so only. three shots actually made their way to Jon Busch (minus the penalty). Akindele and Castillo hit theirs practically straight at Busch and Loyd's effort forced a save, but a pretty routine one.
As much as it pains me to say it, Dallas didn't really have a chance in this one despite being more aggressive and on the more positive side of things. Credit to Watson for getting his team to commit to defending like that and for forcing Pareja and Dallas into a corner. It's not entirely Papi's fault. There really wasn't another option or sub he could have used that would have changed the outcome of the game. Here's to hoping Dallas doesn't shoot themselves in the foot with another red this Saturday against Colorado.
*In case you don't follow me on Twitter, I tweeted that there have been eight red cards issued in 2014 in the first half and Dallas has four of them.