Believe it or not, even in the aftermath of the David Ferreira leg snappage, FC Dallas has collected a fine 10 out 12 possible points. Folk's, that's pretty good. You can be a negative nelly and point out there was a lot of luck and MLS bottom dwellers in that mix, but I won't.
Wednesday night's 1-0 win against the slowly gelling Toronto FC proves that Dallas' growth defensively might sustain the team while Hyndman figures out how to get the attack going. The looming problem is that the attacking part of the team, one that was already struggling with Ferreira on the field, is now really sputtering without him. The "D in Dallas" for now is the proverbial "finger in the dam".
Toronto added to Dallas' challenges in fielding the rare 4-3-3 formation. Add to that Hyndman's last minute decision to revert back to the 4-1-4-1 after Castillo's loose lips revealed the league's worst kept secret, it was never going to be an easy Spring evening in Frisco.
And it wasn't. It was only referee Yader Reyes' brave penalty kick call in the waining minutes of the first half that put Dallas in a proper place to score. The team wasn't about to really mount a real challenge by itself. The issues in attack that have lingered all season continued here. Brek Shea's reinsertion at left mid has helped matters tremendously and its fun to watch the kid grow and improve. But, too many times the hard work being done out wide (Shea or otherwise) finds no one in the box to finish it off.
Hyndman's choice of Castillo in the lone strikers role solves one problem (speed), but creates others (runs, decision making) and invariably when the ball gets into the box, there's never enough guys in hoops and too many guys in other colors.
The team's nature is to get wide and either cross the ball in, or attack deep and laterally into the box and Castillo just isn't good at being the person at the end of these moves. Milton should be, but his lack of pace snuffs out his effectiveness. Wednesday night the quick adjustment to the expected 4-2-2 never really panned out and actually at times looked more like a 4-4-1-1 as Chavez dropped deep leaving Castillo alone. The 4-2-2 is probably the formation FCD is going to forced to play, but making it actually work is going to be a painful process.
The defense continues to look, mostly, collected and ready for anything. The combo of Hernandez and Jacobson and their drive go a long way in making the back four look good. If there's a complaint from back there, its the passing. Still not a strength and way too slow.
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 - 8 Should get an extra point simply for not wearing that horrid lime green kit.
Jackson - 8 That's the guy we expect him to be, although was lucky, so lucky, to escape with that stupid late tackle
John - 7 Another solid night
Ugo - 7 Another solid night
Loyd - 7 A better defensive minded performance
Chavez - 6 Heavily involved and asked to perform different roles but couldn't create that game changing moment as needed
Shea - 8 Shining match, but wasn't finding much help on the receiving end. Congrats on the new deal
Jacobson - 5 Solidifying his spot on the starting roster but not a creator
Hernandez - 6 He and Jacobson spend so much time disrupting and too little attacking
Alexander - 5 His calm nature on the ball is great, but like others not affecting the match as team needs
Castillo - 4 The excitement and shine of the youngster is quickly fading as a square peg in a round hole
Match Grade: D A largely boring affair, no crowd, no atmosphere and chances at goal were forgettable.
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.