If we know one thing about FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman, its that he can take a swift kick to the 'twig & berries'. But if you told the Gaffer prior to the season that after the first three matches his squad would gather two red cards, a single goal and a single point, he might have doubled over in severe pain.
Or would he?
After all, when you make as many changes as he has from last year's Cup running side, struggling might be - actually should be - expected.
Friday night in Columbus was an extreme with five changes to the side from the loss to San Jose. While Shea's return to center back was obvious, you probably lifted an eyebrow over the additions of Ugo at right back, Jackson at linking mid and the youngsters Castillo (left wing) and Luna (up top).
All of that equaled a disappointing result in Ohio but clouded by Jackson's unforgivable one-minute double yellow just after a half hour of play. This is still a team that you can't really figure out simply because two of the three matches they've been forced to play a man down for 3/4's of the match.
But of the three matches, this is the first that Dallas wasn't clearly the better side. Even a man down Dallas looked to really push Chicago, and they outplayed San Jose in every aspect of the game (minus finishing).
In Columbus though, Dallas was not the better side before or after the Jackson meltdown. Dallas struggled to gain much possession in the first 30 minutes and were relegated mostly to defending and counters. Again the midfield struggled, although there was some attempt to play through the middle and not the exclusive lengthy play seen in weeks one and two.
Again, like last season, 2011 will always come down to this: As Ferreira goes, so goes the team. Show me a FCD win, and I will show you a night David is able to free himself and do his thing. The problem is, as Hyndman stated in his post match comments, "It’s just not one player after him. The whole team is trying to shut him down".
Hyndman has much to consider and most of it is tied to Shea. Just how determined he is to recreate Brek into a CB will be seen in the coming weeks. Remember, the last Dallas player to attempt this positional move was Bobby Rhine. And much like with Bobby the results are going to be very mixed. What Dir gained in attacking with Bobby at right back came with understandable defensive miscues. Same with Brek, what Dallas gains in size, speed, ball skill and passing out of the back (especially that), its going to get some poor defensive work.
So, does Hyndman need a left midfielder so badly that he moves Brek back to midfield?
Go to a 4-4-2? If so, does that make Ferreira's situation worse?
Personally I think Hyndman sticks with the 4-1-4-1, has to hope that someone steps up to fill Dax's shoes as that is likely the only thing that helps Ferreira consistently find space. What is hurting Dallas now isn't the formation, its the performances of the players.
Friday will be an outstanding night as Dallas sets itself up nicely to grab its first three points against the team that so cruelly bested them in Toronto on that cold, windy, crummy November night.
Grades: (5 is an average performance, 10 is a world-class mindbender. Please note in my system, each player is held to a different standard based on their experience, position and expectation. ie: a Luna grade of "5" is likely different that a Milton grade of "5".)
Hartman: 6 - Appears to still be in 2010 form.
Ugo: 3 - Looked so out of place, especially when you think of Loyd in that same spot. Touch was horrid all night.
John: 5 - Really was one of the few having a decent night, but the PK was a poor defending decision on his part, and he knows it
Shea: 4 - Suddenly now clears balls when he appears to have some space and time. Is that progress or regress? Gavin goal was completely "midfielder defending".
Benitez: 4 - Like last season, one of those intermittent odd performances with poor passing and seems more interested in mixing it up with opponents.
Chavez: 4 - Another unimpressive showing
Castillo: I - The one player that most suffered from the red card. Thought Schellas should have subbed him out straight away.
Hernandez: 5 - Battled so hard, looked hurt, thought should have been subbed with 20 minutes left
Jackson: 1 - Was invisible until he killed his team. First tackle was clumsy, 2nd was a Hyndman relationship ender.
Ferreira: 5 - I wonder if each MLS match actually takes one match off his playing career?
Luna: 4 - Is going to learn quickly that his pshyical style isn't going to play as well at this level, but did hold the ball up better as match wore on.
Loyd : I - Neither got on early enough to make an impact
Milton - I
NEW FEATURE! A letter grade for the entertainment value of the match itself.
Game: C+ - Very much a display of two sides with a single point between them before kickoff. How Columbus didn't put Dallas away sooner is more a testament to their poor quality than anything.
Ed note: Grades are for entertainment purposes only. Do not take them to heart, personally or otherwise. If you don’t like the grades may we suggest instead of only calling the author names and bein’ an anonymous meanie, how about you put your grades and explanation in the comment section below. After doing that, then you can then call the author names and remain anonymous, you just won’t be a meanie. Discourse is good for the soul.