Zip it: Chicago Fire at FC Dallas

It has been Schellas Hyndman’s dream to play Brek Shea at centerback for FC Dallas in MLS matches. On Saturday night, in the club’s 1-1 opening night draw with the Chicago Fire at Pizza Hut Park, the experiment lasted until the 55th minute when Shea was sent off with a straight red card for his foul from behind on Gaston Puerari.

Perhaps the call was a bit harsh, but it spoiled an otherwise exciting first leg of the Brimstone Cup.

Chicago would open the scoring on the night in the 17th minute from a corner kick. Lax defending and a save from Kevin Hartman laid the ball at the feet of Fire forward Diego Chaves. Chaves easily punched the ball to the back of the net, pushing Chicago into the early 1-0 lead.

Dallas would answer immediately.

After the ensuing restart, Zach Loyd beat a defender into the left side of the box, slipping the ball to the feel of Milton Rodriguez, whose deft backheel tied the score at 1-1 in the 18th minute.

It was perhaps a frustrating match for both sides. Shea’s red card certainly curtailed much of what FC Dallas wished to do in the second half. Puerari was stoned on a breakaway one-versus-one with Hartman. Hartman also played Superman twice near the end of the match as he made two very nice reaction saves off the boot of Marco Pappa.

But this match did invite some interesting observations for Dallas supporters. The prospect of Brek Shea in the back may very well be an interesting one. His size is an obvious factor, but his speed and his ability to pass and get forward on occasion are obviously exciting. Shea’s jaunt up the right flank in the first half was exciting and dangerous. Shea’s ability to attack could put serious pressure on defenses as the season moves forward if he’s playing in defense.

A less savory kind of excitement was his two obvious defensive miscues, the last leading to his early exit and absence from next week’s match. Clearly Shea’s decision-making must improve. Lapses along the flanks are not the same as in the middle of the pitch, and Shea nearly cost Dallas the match.

Another problem for Dallas in the center is the absence of Dax McCarty. While McCarty was wearing the arm-band for DC United, Eric Alexander showed few signs of handling McCarty’s vital role from a year ago. If Alexander is to prove a replacement, a improvements to his game must come, or Dallas will suffer as opponents smother the Dallas attack before it even starts.

But it’s early yet; one match does not indicate how an entire season will play out. Hopefully next week will possibly provide some more answers.

Scoring Summary:

CHI – Diego Chavez 17

DAL – Milton Rodriguez (Zach Loyd) 19

Misconduct Summary:

CHI - Cory Gibbs (caution; tactical foul) 30

DAL – Jackson (caution; unsporting behavior) 35

DAL – Daniel Hernandez (caution; reckless tackle) 37

DAL – Brek Shea (ejection; denied goal scoring opportunity) 55

CHI – Michael Videira (caution; unsporting behavior) 60

CHI – Josip Mikulic (caution; unsporting behavior) 72

CHI – Segares (caution; reckless tackle)

FC Dallas – Kevin Hartman, Jackson, George John, Brek Shea, Zach Loyd, Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander (Andrew Jacobson 73), Daniel Hernandez, Eric Avila (Ugo Ihemelu 63), David Ferreira, Milton Rodriguez (Ruben Luna 66).

TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (David Ferreira 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Jackson, Ferreira, Rodriguez 1); FOULS: 11 (Daniel Hernandez 2); OFFSIDES: 1 (Rodriguez 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Ferreira 5); SAVES: 5 (Kevin Hartman 5)

Subs not used: Chris Seitz, Bruno Guarda, Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Jacobson, Ruben Luna, Ricardo Villar, Bobby Warshaw.

Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson, Bratislav Ristic (Patrick Nyarko 42), Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs, Logan Pause, Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Segares, Michael Videira (Baggio Husidic 62), Gaston Puerari, Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 75).

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Diego Chaves 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (six players tied with one); FOULS: 18 (Pappa 4); OFFSIDES: 1 (Barouch 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Puerari 3); SAVES: 2 (Sean Johnson 2)

Subs not used: Jon Conway, Dan Paladini, Davis Paul, Dansan Robinson.

Weather: Clear, 81 degrees

Referee: Terry Vaughn

Referee Assistants: George Gassner, Adam Wienckowski

4th Official: Elias Bazakos