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Scratching the Chalkboard: Sleeper USMNT Picks

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Does Dallas have two potential call ups for the USMNT January Camp?

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While the match was pretty hard on the eyes, there were some positives to draw from last weekend's game against the Colorado Rapids. A crucial win for a big boost in FC Dallas' quest for third place in the West and a clean sheet. Even though the Rapids' season is completely unraveling, limiting offensive chances and let alone goals will be the key for Dallas in the playoffs. Getting the defensive unit on the same page and seeing them execute the game plan will be huge if Dallas hope to make a deep run for the MLS Cup. With Matt Hedges and Zach Loyd anchoring the defense, Dallas has a potential of USMNT hopefuls at their disposal that might catch a certain German's eye for a January call up.

Speed Kills

Generally the term "speed kills" applies to offensive threats and you could see that the Rapids had plenty of that in DeShorn Brown and Vicente Sanchez. Like many recent games where the opponent had a speedy attacker, Oscar Pareja tends to prefer Zach Loyd's pace to be paired with Matt Hedges' size and stability. Loyd of course has been rock solid at CB himself, but his speed effectively nullifies the pace of most attackers in this league, or at least makes it significantly more difficult to generate any offense.

Rapids Shots

DeShorn Brown (#26) managed only two shots with only one coming from the run of play and neither of them were on target. In fact it was only Dillon Powers (#8) that managed a solitary strike on target for the entire match. Credit goes to Loyd for nullifying Brown's speed and to Hedges for keeping the defense organized to let Raul Fernandez enjoy the gorgeous view from the stadium.

O Captain

Hedges

Hedges wasn't called into action too much, which for me is a good thing. With this pairing I'd prefer Hedges to organizing and taking up space than going in for the tackles (more on that later). The best part was seeing how Hedges was only called into action (a clearance) once inside his own penalty area. It was a good job by the whole team defensively in terms of keeping the game in front of them, and Hedges should be credited for that.

Loyd: Tackling Machine

I sincerely hope that during the off season Zach Loyd runs a camp for all the defenders on the art of slide tackling. On top of his good speed, Loyd's slide tackling abilities are one of the best in the league. In fact, Loyd ranks 3rd in tackles per 90 among defenders. (Min 26 games played)

Loyd Tackles

Then of the 28 defenders who have played a minimum of 26 games, Loyd ranks #2 in terms of tackling percentage, losing out by 1% to San Jose's Jordan Stewart. His high rate of efficiency was of course on display against the Rapids as he went 6/7 on tackles.

Loyd Tackles 2

My only concern here is that Loyd was dragged out wide too easily. I couldn't tell if it was just his natural tendency to drift wide or if DeShorn Brown did a good job of spreading the defense or if Je-Vaughn Watson was just caught out of position too much or perhaps it was some combination of everything. Either way, it's concerning when your centerback is called into action out into wide spaces too often in one game. However, if one of our CBs had to be pulled out wide, better it be Loyd who knows how to play the angles out there better than most CBs.

At this stage and given Klinsmann's recent comments about MLS, I'm not confident either Hedges or Loyd will be called up to the National Team. Sometimes you just don't fit into the coach's plans (see: Victor Ulloa-Schellas Hydnman) but regardless of whether where they are called in or not, Dallas fans can be happy knowing that they are at least playing at that level for their club.