FC Dallas fell to the San Jose Earthquakes and the Chris Wondolowski Show 2-0 at Pizza Hut Park Saturday night in a poor first-half showing to continue a slow start for the defending Western Conference champions.
Lax marking by last week’s hero, Zach Loyd, gave the 2010 MLS Golden Boot winner Wondolowski the time and space to score twice in the game’s first 25 minutes.
Wondolowski’s first goal came in just the fifth minute of play. After receiving a ball in the box, Wondolowski took the ball off a volley with time to turn and punch the shot past a helpless Kevin Hartman. His second goal would come in just the 23rd minute after Dallas was unable to clear the ball on a set piece, heading the ball with time and space afforded by Loyd’s poor marking.
This match featured both frustrating and encouraging signs for FC Dallas.
Injuries and inconsistent play along the backline cost Dallas for the second week in a row. Last week’s misery was brought on by Brek Shea’s silly straight red card; this week’s by Zach Loyd’s abysmal defending. We’ve seen much better than this from Loyd, but Ugo Ihemelu’s absence brought the pain. The difference in the match was clearly along the two teams back lines: Dallas’s shaky and suspect; San Jose’s healthy and familiar. Additionally, Dallas’ inability to finish chances cost them dearly, most notably Milton Rodriguez’ failure on a one-on-one with ‘Quakes keeper Jon Busch at the 60 minute mark.
On the encouraging side, FC Dallas designated player and 18 year-old wonderkid Fabian Castillo made his debut and an immediate impact in the match, taking on defenders and turning them this way and that. The sheer athleticism displayed at left flank should send a clear message to Brek Shea: you now have competition at your preferred position.
Another positive was the emergence of the gritty, give-it-all team from a year ago, a far cry from the team that stepped on the field the first 45 minutes. It’s too bad Dallas allowed the early goals. This should have been a winnable match. Dallas’ punishment was to have to try to break down a boring, packed-in San Jose defense for the rest of the match. They still created chances and were unfortunate to not have received the dividends of their labors.
The MLS season is a long one, and two matches is not yet enough time to evaluate where this team could finish. But injuries and uninspired play are always cause for alarm. Dallas will go into their match with
MLS Cup Champion Colorado Rapids Columbus Crew still searching for their first win, but with major defensive questions looming. Dallas could use a win; a tie or a loss would surely mean Dallas would simply add to the pressure of overcoming a lackluster start.
Still, there is no reason to suspect this team is in any kind of disarray. And in MLS, ending strong is much more important than starting strong. But if Dallas doesn’t start earning points soon, the going will be just that much tougher.
Schellas Hyndman post game comments.
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 1 (Chris Leitch 1) 5
SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 2 (Joey Gjertsen 1, Chris Leitch 2) 23
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Busch, Chris Leitch, Jason Hernandez, Brandon McDonald, Ramiro Corrales (Brad Ring 89), Joey Gjertsen (Ellis McLoughlin 73), Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins (Ike Opara 83), Bobby Convey, Chris Wondolowski, Ryan Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Bobby Burling, Matt Luzunaris, Andrew Weber.
FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, George John, Jackson (Ruben Luna 74), Jair Benitez, Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander (Eric Avila 62), Daniel Hernandez, Ricardo Villar (Fabian Castillo 57), Milton Rodriguez, David Ferreira.
Substitutes Not Used: Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Jacobson, Bobby Warshaw, Chris Seitz.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Peter Manikowski; Mike Kampmeinert
4th Official: Armando Villarreal
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Clear and 68 degrees
Daniel Hernandez post game comments.