While a five hour drive isn't something I want to do every day, this annual trip to Midland is quite fun. It's a small event for the reserves, but it's taken seriously out here and is a lot of fun. A crowd of about 1800 on the short notice of this event isn't to shabby. WTUS PR guys says they draw more than that in regular season events. That's not bad at all for a PDL team.
This game was a chance for some reserves to make a case and get some PT. A few of them did, quite a few of them didn't. The two teams are working on organizing a return match in Dallas, just as they did last year. With the loss of the reserve league, these kind of PDL games have become even more important for FC Dallas.
One side note: I mentioned in a tweet that there was a fight in the stands during stoppage time of the second half. No FCD players, personnel, or fans were involved that I could tell. It was just some color that I mentioned as it happened.
FC Dallas is their red and white stripes playing a diamond 4-2-2.
WTU Sockers are in white with black trim and play a 3-5-2. I didn't bother with their subs, as they cleared their benches in the second half.
4' 1-0 WTUS Goal - Davies gives up a free kick about 5 yards outside box. #88 Furness spins the ball over wall and into the top corner. Pure class free kick, really stunning from a PDL player.
73' 1-1 FCD Goal - PK, Rodriguez takes it, places it in left side of net. Ruben Luna earns the PK by beating on rushing keeper to the ball, tapping it past (ball goes out of bounds), and then getting hit hard. Not a PK home fans would be happy with but technically the correct call.
76' 2-1 WTUS Goal - Free kick about 30 yards out on the offensive left flack. Furness plays a really nice swerving ball to the back post and #29 Zapata gets to it first to put it past a diving Sala. Well taken set play.
El Bueno (The Good)
- Man of the Match is Dominic Furness for West Texas despite the fact he wears a stupid number. Not only does he score their free kick and assists on the second goal, he's clearly their best player. He's every where for them in midfield in a Preki-like manner. He defends well, is tenacious both ways (he's giving Avila fits in the first half), has terrific feet, can pass really well, and has good vision. He just got back from a training stint with the KC Wizards. You can see why, he's for real. He currently plays for West Texas A&M, but he's from Middlesbrough. Yes, in England.
"I wanted to put it on the back post so it had the best chance of going in. And when [Zapata] took the header, it deflected it just enough to throw off the goalie." - Furness on his assist. (Odessa American)
- They do have a striker that's not bad, about the same as Marosevic I would think, and that's #9 Ben Everson. He's also bizarrely from Middlesbrough and also currently at West Texas A&M. I'm sure they were a package deal. He's not blistering quick, but is fast enough. Works hard and seems smart.
- Clearly the class of this game is Milton Rodriguez. He's on a different level mentally. He gets three shots at free kicks, each one getting close and closer. In play he's ahead of the FCD reserves in thinking and has sublime touch. He hits the post once in the second half. In the first half he has all five of the FCD shots and is the only FCD player with a shot in that half. He also could actually hold the ball for 3 or 4 seconds and lay it off.
- The FCD back four actually wasn't bad as WTUS only got three shots on net, two of them were goals and one was saved by Sala. Other than a couple free kicks they gave up in not great spots there wasn't a ton to complain about.
- Ruben Luna is, to me, clearly ahead of Marosevic and Wiedeman in progression. If I had to start anyone else but Cunningham or Rodriguez at forward it would be him. He earned the PK, and twice more earned free kicks inches outside the box that a braver referee might have called PKs. Other than Rodriguez he was the only FCD player to come remotely close to scoring and was denied by a terrific save from the keeper.
- Outside of one free kick he gave up, Kyle Davies looks great. Moving well, looks quick again. Still reads the game beyond his years. Strong performance from him. I talked to him about his arm and it's still bothering him with some pain under certain conditions, more from the dislocation part that the broken part.
- The Sockers keeper Leif Craddock stood on his head and made 9 saves. One 15 second stretch in the second half he made 3 saves on 4 shots inside the box, with one hitting the post. A couple of this saves were really terrific.
"I saw [Craddock] block the first one, but then I saw them get three more shots off and I was like 'Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.' That was the Whataburger Save right there." - West Texas United defender Raul Franco (Midland Reporter-Telegram)
"He did a good job. He saved a couple and his defense blocked some shots. That's what you expect the keeper to do -- keep the ball out of the net." - Schellas Hyndman (Midland Reporter-Telegram)
- Eric Alexander was his same smooth, composed, and calm self. He doesn't strik fear into the opposition like Hernandez does, but I still see a nice player with a future. He had trouble in the first half finding anyone to pass to.
El Camino Central (Middle of the Road)
- Sorta interesting side note: one of the assistant referee's on this game is Kevin Terry... Junior.
- Eric Avila was terrible in the first half, and terrific in the second. First half was flat, runs going no where, passes to know one. Second half, dynamic, game changing, and effective. Consistency is still a problem here, as are turnovers. It's why he remains a great attacking sub and not a starter level player.
- Marvin Chavez was also a bit hit or miss. He and Jackson took some time to get on the same page, but starting late in the first half and through the second they were a nice combo down the win and created some opportunities overlapping.
- Trialist Jackson was solid, although talking to Hyndman after I think he liked Jackson more than I did. Jackson is a tall lanky player that can run the line and cross. feet aren't bad, like Benitez it occasionally gets away from him. Long legged, reminds me of Ezra Hendrickson a bit (as I search for player to compare him to). I like Loyd better, but I'm not the coach. I won't complain if he's signed.
- Bruno Guarda was Bruno Guarda. When he came in he held the ball, didn't turn it over, and made FCD's midfield work. After his insertion, the Red Stripes dominated play in midfield despite being 4 v 5 in there. If Guarda could just find something, anything, going forward he'd be a real nice player. He fixed the team by doing what he's supposed to do... but didn't blow me away either.
- Edson Edward wasn't terrible. A couple give away passes straight to the feet of the opposition, but he wasn't the worst FCD defender today. Which isn't saying much.
- I enjoyed Zach Loyd at center back, he was just as good there as he is at right back. He didn't change the game or anything, but WTU only had two shots in the second half, both off set plays I believe. He and Davies completely shut down the middle in the second half.
No Tan Bueno (Not So Good)
- Another flat first half start for FCD. That's three straight games between first team and reserves. There's clearly a problem here that has to be addressed. That's on the players and the captain as much as it is the coach in my book. Was part of it the new formation? Sure, FCD really struggled to find the flow and transition game in the new shape. But I don't think it was all the formation by any stretch of the imagination. FCD was clearly flat and lacked energy in the first half.
"In the two games last year, they were on us right away. I don’t know if they just expected to beat us or weren’t ready — they didn’t have a lot of time to warm up — but they didn’t pick it up until the second half." - Sockers defender Raul Franco (Odessa American)
- Jason Yeisley worked his tail off and ran all over, but it wasn't effective or with purpose. The difference when Luna came on was obvious. I still like Yeisley but he's going to have to progress his mind to make it in MLS.
- Wiedeman and Marosevic both came in at wide midfield. Of the two, Marosevic actually did a couple things, Wiedeman was just lost. Neither did anything to make me forget Luna. To be fare 25 minutes isn't a ton of time to make an impact.
- Unfortunately Brian Leyva wasn't good. He kept trying to beat three or fours players on the dribble. Granted he wasn't getting a ton of help so I give him some credit for trying to get into the advanced third to get the ball to Rodriguez. Leyva was out of synch with Avi and Chavez, and that resulted in a very poor first half from the FCD midfield. The 5 man WTUS midfield with the extra player didn't control the midfield exactly, but neither did FCD in the first half.
- Anthony Wallace did nothing. He looked like he was mailing it in again. He had zero moments that made me even pause to think about him over Jair Benitez. And Benitez has been crap this year.
Let's face it, losing to a PDL side, even if it's the FCD reserves, should never happen. This result is a massive win for WTUS and a pathetic loss for FCD. FCD out shot WTU 17 to 8, and particularly dominated in the second half when they out shot the Sockers 12 to 2. Yet as good as the second half was, FCD didn't score in the run of play. And as good as the second half was the first half was equally horrible.
"The first disappointment is losing. But the result is a bigger disappointment because we expected to win." - Hyndman (Odessa American)