One concern Schellas Hyndman had going into last Saturday's match against Real Salt Lake was the speed up front with Robbie Findley and Joao Plata. Both are dangerous on and off the ball due to their blistering speed and ability to break free from a defender.
The end result as we know it wasn't so bad for FC Dallas, a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Dallas' own speedsters Fabian Castillo and Jackson Goncalves. But there was a concern on the part of the gaffer early on in the match when Plata and Findley caused some issues for defenders George John and Matt Hedges.
"The thing we said to them today was don't get caught flat, said Hyndman. "The first time Findley ran forward, he ran offside because they stepped up on him, and I was a little bit nervous and I told them be careful because they're going to have too much speed for us, so I thought they adjusted really quite well."
Quite well indeed. Based on the Chalkboard stats, both John and Hedges did very well in recovery along with the all important stats of interceptions and tackles won. Clearances were also a big number, especially for Hedges who had 12 including a huge game-saving clearance off of RSL rookie Devon Sandoval.
So what did Hedges and John do so well that kept the speed of Plata and Findley at bay? The limited the over the top ball and were wise to let the two attackers play in front of them a little more. Normally I wouldn't be a fan of a speedy attacker being able to play in front of a defender so freely like this but it worked on Saturday.
They did have some help from their midfield duo of Michel and Andrew Jacobson. Both were vital in the recovery on defense and each helped contain the key cog in the RSL midfield on the day, Luis Gil.
"We talked about it before the game but I didn't think it ended up being that big of a challenge for us, said Hedges on the speed of RSL. "We let them play in front of us a little bit more and limit the ball over the top. I think it worked well."
It is no secret in MLS that going at Hedges and John with speed will be what teams will look to do. We saw this with Houston two weeks ago, they used pressure up front from Giles Barnes and Will Bruin, along with speed from the midfield. RSL had a little more motor to their forwards up front, which provided a better test in my book for Hedges and John.
The duo of Hedges and John are continuing to improve as a unit in the back. With the help of Zach Loyd, who has played very well these last couple of games and Jair Benitez, the Dallas back four is looking better and better with each game. That is a good thing to see this early in the season too. Being able to handle the speed up front from other clubs will come in handy as the season rolls on when Dallas plays the Darren Mattocks of the world and other speedy attackers.