It is still very, very early in the season but after four games I think FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman is finally getting close to settling in on a lineup that he truly feels good with for the long haul. If you recall last year, he tweaked the lineup here and there in the first third of the season until he found a combination in the back, along with the proper depth off the bench to make a special run at that lovely 19-game unbeaten mark.
While I don't see a 19-game unbeaten mark happening anytime soon this season, I do think this club is very close to getting to the level we all expected them to be here this season. The biggest reason for that in my mind is finding the right people for certain spots like the holding midfielder role, now likely in Andrew Jacobson's hands. Or the old Atiba Harris spot, now in the hands of newcomer Fabian Castillo.
Now this brings me to the spot for Brek Shea. Is it on the wings? Center of defense? Or at left back?
To me, last Friday we saw the makings of what will likely be a very solid back four with Zach Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Shea. The speed and skill on the outside with Shea and Loyd was fun to watch while having Ihemelu and John back together again certainly was the right call.
Now I know FCD has Jair Benitez that is capable of holding down one of the outside back spots, usually the left one but it was something different with Shea back there against Colorado last Friday. Shea was far more comfortable in the back at the outside spot than he ever looked in the middle of the defense. Playing from the left back allowed Shea to do what he does best, getting forward when he needs to and cause havoc for the other club with his quality passing.
Shea wasn't able to do those things from the center of the defense and ended up causing the defense to sit a little higher than Hyndman probably would have liked in the first game against Chicago. Sitting high in the defense, along with some shaky passing out of the midfield helped cause Shea's red card against the Fire.
But as we saw against Colorado things were miles better. Having Ihemelu and John in the middle allowed Daniel Hernandez to do what he does best, which also came from Jacobson playing his role so well, which also allowed David Ferreira to have such a solid game. It was a chain reaction in my mind, mostly coming from having Shea at the let back spot.
It was only one game but I think Dallas fans caught a glimmer of the future (or at least for this season) of how good this defense will really be. Sunday's game in Portland could be a big test for how things will go moving forward. As we saw last year, once Hyndman got comfortable with a lineup he rarely changed it, unless an injury popped up or someone got called in for international duties.
What did you all make of Shea at left back last week? Think it is the spot for him? Or would you prefer him to go back into the midfield?