FC Dallas faced NYCFC on Sunday, a tale of two very different sides. One who prides themselves of their academy system and grows from within, and another who sees their core coming in from expensive European imports. Two of the best sides in the league at the moment, and they ended up sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
Matt Hedges is so tough he eats nails for breakfast
Matty Hedges, freakin legend (I can’t use the real chant, otherwise it’ll have to go into the swear jar). Hedges already had the reputation of being a big, tough player, but he took it to a new level whenever the captain and Kellyn Acosta hit heads in an aerial duel. Both of them were immediately assessed due to the concussion protocols. On the television, you could see that blood was pouring out of the American’s forehead.
He went off the field to get bandaged, had to change both jersey and shorts due to the amount of blood, and returned to the field. At halftime, he got six stitches in his head and finished the match in his usual dominant style. This level of toughness is something that you do not see often in the game anymore. If Hedges didn’t already have a sterling reputation with the club and the fans, I think he gained a few more on Sunday with his man of the match, bloodied, bandaged performance.
Dallas utilized their width
Dallas thrives when playing down the wings, mainly on the right side due to the addition of Hernan Grana at right back. NYCFC has struggled in the wide game in the past due to their home stadium is incredibly narrow to where it is difficult to truly play wide. There were several occasions throughout the game where a well threaded through ball was played, or a long ball was played down the wing, and both Barrios and Roland Lamah used their speed to win the balls to create goalscoring chances.
For instance in the 20th minutes, a long ball was played down the right wing, held off two defenders, played the ball to Maxi Urruti, who laid it off in an open gap where Kellyn Acosta pounced on it to take the lead. Although they play the Brooklyn club once a year, Pareja can learn from games like this where when a team plays narrowly, they can still play the wide game, but find alternative ways other than crossing the ball to find the back of the net.
The big return
In my opinion, there was one big win on Sunday, and that was the return of Ryan Hollingshead. Back in January during an ice storm, he was assisting a family who’s car got stranded, and ended up getting hit by another drifting car. He ended up breaking some vertebrae in his neck but luckily for him no surgery was required. This was truly a special moment for the versatile player. He received a well deserved roaring ovation from the crowd once he entered the field.
128 days after the accident and it felt amazing to get back on the field with my first minutes. Thankful for all the support to get back! https://t.co/mva8gQHktj— Ryan Hollingshead (@rmhollingshead) May 15, 2017
Although he only played for a few minutes, this was a big start for him returning to playing more meaningful minutes. However, the squad is much stronger, especially in the wide roles he normally plays in, so he will have to fight to get into the starting XI. This squad got much deeper now that he is playing minutes, watch out Greg Vanney. With the drive Hollingshead has, this will be much easier than recovering from being hit by a car.