FC Dallas headed to Salt Lake City needing a win or draw to advance to their first Western Conference Final in eleven years. They got exactly that with a 1-1, nailbiting draw that sees FCD advance to play the LA Galaxy next Sunday night at the Home Depot Center for a berth in MLS Cup 2010.
-FCD won this series with Real Salt Lake the way they've won all season. Strength right down the middle of the field supplemented by players fighting for one another all over the field. How many times last night in the second half did we see Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea defending on their own endline and Jeff Cunningham tracking back to disrupt Kyle Beckerman in the back.
-Brek Shea's offside goal may not have counted, but it changed everything. As expected, RSL came out of the locker room flying. They were pushing forward with every pass and had FCD on the back foot before the swift counterattack goal(that is probably not called offside at least 1/3 of the time). It may not have counted on the scoreboard, but it was a warning shot that clearly caused RSL to drop back a little bit and curb their attack somewhat.
-Kevin Hartman is the FC Dallas Co-MVP. It's a damn shame, but the stupid Thierry Henry cheap shot on Hartman probably cost FC Dallas the Supporter's Shield and a shot at hosting the Western Conference Final this weekend. Dallas is a completely different team with Hartman in goal and he's equally important to the team as David Ferreira right now. Easily the best MLS signing of 2010.
-An absolutely devastating counterattack from FC Dallas last night. We all knew the main FCD offense would come from counterattacks and they did it brilliantly last night. The goal may not have come from the counter, but between Shea's offside goal, Chavez brilliant opportunity and Luna's chance towards the end(the latter 2 being goals if they pass across the box) Dallas could have easily scored 3 or 4 goals tonight. A brilliant game plan with near perfect execution.
-Dax McCarty is an X-Factor for FC Dallas and he has upped his game. I said on here a few weeks ago that Dax is playing below his ability and needs to raise his game and play like the veteran he is(the second longest tenured player on FC Dallas). He's done just that and out-dueled Kyle Beckerman over both legs.
-It's tough to find anything negative to say about anyone on the field. You can look at almost every player on the team sheet and find a strong contribution to the game. George John was immense in the last 15 minutes, Daniel Hernandez shut down the RSL attacking mid position, Marvin Chavez kept the RSL backline honest with his speed...every spot on the field was incredibly solid. Except...
-Jackson was the only rough spot last night. The guy is probably playing injured right now, but you just have to start Zach Loyd at right back next week. He was pretty poor last night with bad giveaways and very poor marking of Espindola. Hartman saved his butt more than once last night.
-Just a great night for the FC Dallas organization and Schellas Hyndman. Last night was complete and total vindication of the system Schellas Hyndman has put in place and leaves no doubt in anyone's mind that he's The Man on World Cup Way. Sweet jacket bro...
-Congratulations to anyone that has been following this team since 2005. Those who have been through the shootouts, red cards and late heartbreaking goals of 2005-2007 were surely saying "here we go again" when Findley scored. As I've been preaching, this is a different team with a different accountability to one another and a different confidence level. To be The Man you've got to beat The Man and that happened last night in Salt Lake City.
This is going to be a fun week.