On what should’ve been a historic night for FC Dallas; the Texas Derby, Matt Hedges setting the all time appearances record for the club, Dallas came out looking exactly like they did against Nashville: flat, uninterested and unsure of themselves. Yet despite playing levels below their capability, Dallas has still managed to keep a couple of clean sheets in the process but wins remain incredibly elusive for this club at the moment.
If you missed the first half of this one, then I envy you. Remember when people used to complain about soccer being ‘boring’ because nothing happens? Well, that was pretty much what we saw in the first 45 - nothingness. Dallas registered 0 shots in the first half, which I honestly cannot remember the last time that happened during my time here. So, assuming my memory is correct, it’s been at least six years since Dallas looked that poor on the offensive end.
This is where things looked very confusing for me. I didn’t have a full view of the field, so I was missing the movement of Franco Jara, Michael Barrios and Jesus Ferreira, but it looked like Dallas was trying to absorb and hit on the counter. However, Dallas rarely played any balls into the attacking half and behind the lines.
Part of that could’ve been the movement was stagnant up top or that Houston had read the play and snuffed out the passing opportunities. But even so, Dallas should’ve varied it and still attempted those direct balls even if they weren’t on. At the very least it would signal the attackers to move or keep the Houston defense on alert and backing up to create space.
Dallas played slow and it’s often not the right tempo for this team’s make up. Dallas’ strength is speed and quickness and they often look out of place when tasked to play at a slower tempo.
Dallas Needs Pomykal and Servania Healthy
I’ve seen enough of Bryan Acosta at this point to say that I prefer Brandon Servania over him. Acosta’s a fine player, but Servania plays at a faster pace, has better discipline, better spacial and defensive awareness and frankly, doesn’t go for that glory goal and hacks the ball into the upper stands.
Once Paxton Pomykal and Servania were introduced at the 69th minute, the Dallas offense immediately had an uptick in speed, urgency, pace and sharpness. 5 of Dallas’ 7 total shots came after both the Homegrown players were on the field.
Dallas was more direct, and took the game to Houston rather than passively waiting for the Dynamo to mess up. Pomykal and Servania are certainly more confident on the ball and are able to play more one touch passes to get the ball behind the lines to stretch defenses.
At this stage it’s just a matter of getting them healthy.
Congrats to Hedges
Matt Hedges deserved better on this night. He was routinely the most steady and consistent player on the field (minus Jimmy Maurer who did well again). Hedges did make one mistake turning the ball over with a very loose pass, but immediately made amends with a strong tackle and forcing the ball out of bounds for a throw in.
Hedges was strong in the air, as per usual and made timely challenges to keep the Houston attack at bay. Hedges and company also did a strong job of keeping everything in front of them, and Alberth Elis never managed to get in behind the backline.
Hedges has had a long career with Dallas and cemented himself as a club legend in 2016 when he was crowned MLS Defender of the Year, but now passing Jason Kreis as the all-time appearances leader for the club speaks highly of him as a player and his character.
Hedges will not grab headlines like the attacking players will, but when it’s all said and done, we’ll look back and remember fondly of the time when Dallas had one of the best centerbacks the league has ever seen.