You know what they say about those arrogant, pompous, self-centered red cards. They love to steal the show and they certainly managed to show up the boys in red on Sunday night when they appeared three times to change the direction of the match because of our good friend, Baldomero Toledo. FC Dallas started off nicely but cooled down and the San Jose Earthquakes created the more dangerous chances, sometimes while a man down. The teams decided to take the point and run home before Toledo decided that he wanted more players to be banned from their next respective matches.
Somehow, someway, this team managed to pull out a shutout in Southern California. Dan Kennedy was good when called upon (only one save but had quite a few claims in the air) and Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman more than held their own when called into action by the San Jose attack. Je-Vaughn Watson and Atiba Harris were shaky at times when dealing with dribblers and the entire team was lucky when Dominic Kinnear was forced to remove Perez Garcia after the Mark Sherrod red card but a goose egg is a goose egg. Whenever you can acquire one, especially on the road, you have done a good job as a team. I thought Victor Ulloa was spectacular today in support of his back line.
Speaking of Ulloa, I think he has been the most consistent player on this team so far this season, I loved that he adventured into the attacking fold and ripped a shot in the first off that sailed just over the bar. If he manages to develop his offensive game a little more, he will be a fantastic player for years to come. His passing seemed spot on all match and never seemed to put a foot wrong. Call me crazy, but he and Hedges have been my MVP's of the season so far. Take one of them out, and this team might not be in a playoff position right now.
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This section is dedicated to Michael Barrios who made a somewhat surprising start Sunday and had probably the best offensive game out of the four attacking players. He used his speed well, had a great chance on goal denied, and took on defenders boldly (sometimes too much but that is why he is not ranked splendidly). Barrios is not a boring player to watch and we shall see if he will make an impact for this team eventually, but the signs of encouragement are there.
No "killer instinct" from the lads on Sunday when they were up a man was particularly bothersome. The offense just did not seem to be clicking at all. Mauro Diaz needs to do a better job of commanding the ball and making things happen. When "the Magician" is not performing well, this team struggles on offense and Sunday night was a prime example of that. This was a "pre-benching" Mauro-like performance. He seemed to fade (along with the rest of the offense) in the second half. I will give Fabian Castillo a pass since he has been dealing with an injury, but Tesho Akindele, David Texeira, Mauro and Barrios need to do a better job of linking up and making things happen especially when the team is up a man. I felt like San Jose maintained the pressure at times while down a man (before the Je-Vaughn red card) and the flow was nonexistent tonight. FC Dallas needs to be better in situations when they are given to them. More drive, perseverance, and attitude could have helped them snatch a victory in Northern California.
Three red cards are rarely justifiable. If the referee has lost control of the game and been too lenient, then you can see what could happen when hard tackles start flying all over the place. I did not think this was the case though. I may be in the minority here, but I do not think Sherrod deserved a red card for his hitting Kennedy in the head with his boot. Looking at the replay, he does not make a stomping motion and really seems to be trying to avoid Dan as he went to ground. Also, Kennedy moved his head up towards his boot, not vice-versa. Unfortunate for Sherrod and the wrong call from Toledo. The Je-Vaughn one was similar for me. He is going for the ball, jumps out of the way of Cato's slide tackle, barely makes contact with the player, and sees straight red. Was he a bit high on the challenge? He gets a bit of the top of the ball and does not make much contact to Cato who slide tackled the ball away from Watson just barely. I do not like that call either and red card happy Toledo ejects his second man of the match. Was it any consolation that Koval was sent off for a really poor challenge? Eh, I do not think so, Baldomero. If you really wanted to give out red cards that much, you should have been patient. One of the challenges really deserved one while the others did not. A grotesque match was turned even uglier and wackier as an effect from trigger-happy Toledo. That is a shame.
I pray that Matt Hedges is alright. Lost in the shuffle of the red card mania was the fact that Hedges left the match with another injury. While Loyd is returning from suspension next week, we cannot afford to lose "the Captain." His team needs him more than ever so we hope it was not too serious and that Hedges is alright.