FC Dallas traveled down to Corpus Christi yesterday to face Houston in a pre-season game labeled "The South Texas Shootout". If yesterday was a shootout, then FC Dallas brought a knife to this gunfight going home with a humbling 4-0 drubbing.
It took just eight minutes for Houston to get on the board with a free kick from Brad Davis, the best player on the field this day, sent into the heart of the penalty box. It missed a couple of heads and fell to Alexis Pradie's foot who turned the ball into his own net.
From there, the disjointed FCD backline made up of Jair Benitez, Alexis Pradie, Bobby Warshaw and Jackson could not get on the same page. It would be 2-0 soon after as another Brad Davis set piece bounced off a couple of heads, the last of which being Geoff Cameron. Davis would put his final stamp on the game with a filthy free kick just before halftime.
The second half wasn't really much to talk about as both teams were making many substitutions and players who had been together for a week had trouble getting on the same page. Houston would draw a late penalty to add emphasis to the scoreline and walk away with a 4-0 win.
"We've worked so hard to develop a culture of winning at FC Dallas, and we didn't want to go out there and not do a good performance," Hyndman said. "I think that the fact that we had three goals scored in the first half was pretty disappointing."
"We've got to get game-sharp, with the fitness and playing good soccer," Hyndman said. "You saw them a little more organized than we were, and that's because we've been outside twice. The goals that we gave up, when you look at all four of them, they came off some sort of set piece or dead ball."
Keep reading for game observations and a spitting incident
Losing 4-0 to Houston is unacceptable no matter the time or the place. While the Dallas defense struggled, that was no excuse for the midfield of Shea, Alexander, Avila, Chavez and Ferreira to play like they did. There was a ten minute span in the first half where they were able to string together passes but other than that everyone looked lethargic and uninterested in putting their stamp on the game. 3-0 at halftime may have been a bit harsh on Dallas, but I can't remember one good scoring chance for FCD until the last few minutes of the game.
Speaking of the defense. I don't want to be too harsh on rookies in their first couple of weeks in the league, especially those who have trained outside for two days with the team, but Pradie and Warshaw were completely out of their depth yesterday. Given the team Houston threw out there with Ching, Cameron, Davis and co, it's not a huge surprise, but they'll obviously need to improve. Pradie was clearly rattled by that own goal and looked nervous and tentative the rest of the game. He lost his mark on almost every free kick in the first half. Warshaw wasn't a whole lot better but the thing I did like about Bobby was that he was very vocal at the back barking out orders to people.
Last year means nothing in 2011. One of the positives I think Dallas can take from this defeat is that if there was any complacency that because this team went to MLS Cup last year they can just walk on the field in 2011 and win, it was just beaten out of them.
Eric Avila cannot play Dax's role on the field. Yesterday, Eric Avila was started behind David Ferreira in the role that Dax played last year and it was a disaster. I love Avila as a player, but he is just not suited to play that position behind Ferreira. His skill set is just not suited to that position and there was a huge gap in the midfield in Avila's position that killed Dallas yesterday. Geoff Cameron and Brad Davis were having a field day with all the space. Things improved some when Villar came in.
Regarding Villar and Bruno Martins. I came away impressed with both guys yesterday. Villar and Martins were both very composed on the ball, played off each other well and tackled well. The 30 minutes they were together in the midfield was probably Dallas' best stretch of the game. At one point they played about 6 quick passes to each other spinning the Dynamo defense, and I think both certainly have something to offer Dallas this season.
Andrew Wiedeman was one of the lone bright spots for Dallas. I thought Wiedeman was one of Dallas better players yesterday playing in an offensive right back role. He got forward well and sent in some good crosses...If I had to pick one player from last year's group of players who will take a step forward this year it would be Wiedeman. He's one to track in the pre-season and early in the year reserve games as I think he could push for some playing time at right mid this season.
The rest of the team. None of the rest of the trialists and rookies really caught my eye. Galindo was only given 20 minutes at the end of the game in which he was playing with a bunch of rookies so it's tough to judge his performance. Scott Gordon was rarely tested in the back, though the guy is absolutely huge physically while Bim Ogunyemi and Brayan Martinez were invisible. As I said earlier, it's so early in the pre-season I'm not going to judge too harshly yet.
At the end of the day...It's an embarrassing loss for Dallas and I hope guys like Ferreira and Shea feel that way too. There's still many games left against MLS teams in the pre-season for Dallas to bounce back and regain their confidence though. If this loss was against any other team, I probably wouldn't be too frustrated. I think if you asked Schellas, he'd tell you scheduling this game so early in the pre-season probably wasn't the smartest thing in the world.
There's no love lost between these two teams in the stands or on the field. One final note, according to the Houston Chronicle, there was a spitting incident between Jair Benitez and Geoff Cameron. The only thing I saw was Cameron, Jair and Ching jawing at each other after Brad Davis' goal. It's impossible to say who is telling the truth, but there were some very harsh words from Cameron and Ching after the game.
“I think he’s an unprofessional player,” Cameron said of Benitez. “It’s just one of those things that he came up to me and it took me every ounce of my energy not to punch him in the face, hit him or retaliate. But I’m a better professional than he is. I just kind of turned my shoulder a little bit and shrugged it off.
Benitez appeared stunned when asked about the incident.
“No, he also spit (at) me,” Benitez said in Spanish. “That’s why I spit (at) him, but it’s because he spit. He’s a player that was telling me about everything. That’s why he spit (at) me and I also spit (at) him.”
“You don’t need that,” Ching said. “It’s a preseason game. He initiated that whole argument with Geoff, and you’d like to see the league crack down on him a little more. It’s not the first time. It’s not his first incident. There’s no need for that in MLS.”
“I think he’s a dirty player,” Ching said. “We don’t need that type of player in this league. He’s a good player. But you definitely don’t need that extra antic on the field. There’s no room for it.”
The Dallas-Houston rivalry is alive and well.
Dallas returns to the field on Tuesday morning at 11AM to face Houston Baptist in a game that will likely feature the reserves, rookies and trialists much more prominently.