In a way it was about what you would expect out of a game with the San Jose Earthquakes. Physical play, lots of fouls (25 total between the two teams) and a wild game. Thankfully for FC Dallas they took the brunt of the physical play and managed to edge out the Quakes on Saturday night 1-0 from a Fabian Castillo goal in the first half.
There was plenty to be happy with on this result too. We'll certainly have more from this in the coming days but I wanted to share my usual five thoughts that I took away from this game.
Focus. I asked FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman following the game last night if he thought this was one of the club's more complete games from start to finish. He agreed but opted for a different word than complete, he stated it was the club's most focused game for 90 minutes that he's seen all season. Part of that is due to the way San Jose plays and goes about themselves on the field. The rest of that is due to players stepping up and playing better to overcome some injuries still going on out there.
Zimmerman. I plan to have more on Walker Zimmerman's performance this week but the quick and skinny of it all was that he played extremely well. One or two mistakes were there but that was to be expected. Overall he did very well at winning balls in the air and being in the right position. Also, his header to clear the ball out of the box helped set up the lone goal on the night for Dallas.
People questioned why Dallas drafted him at the time but I think he proved it last night as he is an extremely talented player that we're only getting to see the start of what he is really made of. With him and Stephen Keel healthy now, it is pretty exciting to think that Dallas has a very solid four man group that can play in the center of the defense and get results.
Fernandez. In all fairness to someone like Chris Seitz, that game last night would not have been a shutout had Raul Fernandez not been in goal. I look at the three or four saves he made in the last ten minutes of the match. The big stop on Chris Wondowloski in the 80th minute will certainly be a Save of the Week nominee as he quickly got himself into the right position to make the stop. Hyndman pointed out that San Jose does a great job at getting the first shot, plus the three following it and their back post runners are always dangerous. Fernandez was able to keep all windows and doors shut on the night.
Fernandez now leads all MLS goalkeepers with 45 saves, pending the rest of the weekend's matches. The shutout is FCD's sixth of the season and Fernandez's fifth.
Midfield play. I need to look more into it via the Chalkboard but I felt the three man group of David Ferreira, Je-Vaughn Watson and Michel did very well together last night.
Heck, I've stopped worrying about Watson out there for Dallas these days. Ever since he got the game-winner against D.C. United a couple weeks ago, he's been very comfortable in the midfield for me and last night was no exception. He was in the right spots and had he gotten a little better touch on the ball late he could have bagged another goal on that breakaway with Eric Hassli.
Michel had another solid night, but it may seem quiet due to the fact that he didn't get to set any goals up on the evening. San Jose kept him at bay with limited amount of free kicks.
And then there is Ferreira who helped guide the ball up 40 yards on the goal that Castillo scored. Heck of a play by the former MVP but possibly an even better finish by the younger Colombian.
Cooper's rough night. I think it was safe to say that last night was just not Kenny Cooper's night. Not only did he get kicked on the sideline by Victor Bernardez but he also got pushed around by him and Jason Hernandez all night. San Jose game planned to keep him at bay up front and did so very effectively. Cooper wasn't able to win a lot of balls up front in the air or even on the ground. It was easily his most quiet game of the season for me last night. I felt the sub to bring on Hassli was about 10 minutes too late.