I haven't done a Gaffer in a while, partially to the World Cup distraction, partially to other lame excuses. So I figured why not try and get back in the saddle on the holida. It's been a spectacular World Cup, with some of the craziest stuff I've ever seen all happening at once in the quarterfinals. But this is an FCD piece and the focus is the KC Wizards game.
FCD has won three straight and is unbeaten in four. FCD is 7th in goals scored in MLS with 16, and given the output from strikers that's not a bad position. They are tied for 4th in goals against with 12 (which, by the way, is the key stat in the standings this year, the top teams in goals allowed at the top teams in the standings.) Again, you can see why the search for a striker has been so key, not that we haven't been talking about it for months.
One more game (Seattle) and Milton Rodriguez will be eligible to play.
El Bueno (The Good)
- David Ferreira was again sensational. That's the 4th straight Man of the Match nod from me. He was wonderful in possession and almost impossible to get off the ball. He's got great vision and can beat people on the dribble, plus he was great on defense. The last four minute time kill in the corner with Harris was pure savvy and class skill. Some might call it boring but I was entranced watching it play out. Best time kill I've ever seen pulled off. Ferreira is a true leader and is showing it on and off the field.
"As we all saw last year, he’s a very, very good player. I think a lot of the attention that FC Dallas got last year was Jeff Cunningham and rightfully so-scoring goals and running for the Golden Boot. The thing that maybe wasn’t seen as much was all the things that David [Ferreira] did. As you can see, he is a tireless worker. There at the end of the game, he and Atiba [Harris] killed four minutes off the clock in the corner. He’s just a smart player. I think right now, this is more his team than anybody else’s." - FCD Head coach Schellas Hyndman
"It was a big responsibility for me in the first and second game. That’s six points right there that could have easily been two. I will take that responsibility any day." - David Ferreira, El Torito.
- Thumbs up on the collective defense. FCD has been clamping down in recent games and running a tight ship. They haven't given up a multiple goal game in league play since facing Seattle back in April.
- The first half was about as complete a FCD domination as we've seen in some time. KC couldn't hardly get across midfield and had no shots on goal. I can't even figure out where their two official shots in the first half came from. I sure don't remember any.
- KC changed shapes to a 4-3-3 in the second half and tried to not let FCD play out of the back as easily. (That's what every other team in MLS does to FCD by the way). But there was a nice second half adjustment by FCD as well. Hyndman calls it "level 2" defense, but it basically means they drop off and defend at midfield. It let's the opposition start the play higher but puts a good 8 man block on defense and prevents counters and fast play.
- Daniel Hernandez was terrific. Which is a good thing considering I thought he wasn't great against Chivas. DH is such a key player for FCD. It very well could be that FCD's season will hinge on keeping him healthy and fit. If he breaks down at the end of the season it could be ugly in the FCD middle. Eric Alexander has some potential, but he's not close to Hernandez yet.
- Harris has been solid as striker, although he's not scoring either. There are a couple things he's doing that are helping the team. First he's holding the ball. In this shape FCD needs penetration from the midfield. Harris holding the ball three seconds and laying it off let's FCD get extra players forward and let's the pressure off the FCD defense. He's also turning and beating people on the dribble. Sure the last touch needs to be better, but at least he's penetrating. Third he's flicking balls on for slashing mids. That will be even more important if the formation shifts to a diamond 4. Lastly he's movement is good, putting the defense under pressure and opening holes. Yes, let's see some goals, but right now FCD is better with Harris up top.
"I thought [Harris] did very well. He held the ball well. He’s a fighter, he flicks the ball on. I don’t think we’re reading off his flicks right now but he’s flicking a lot of balls on. I thought Atiba worked awfully hard, took a lot of fouls off kicks and was a good player for us." - Hyndman
- I am not the biggest Hartman fan, I think he's on the downside of his career. But I have to be honest, he's been quite good for FCD. His positioning is superb and the defense has a level of confidence with him back there. He also deserves props for showing up big against his former team. Don't undersell that, he easily could have gotten caught up in the emotions of facing a team he felt slighted him. Really strong performance by Hartman in this one.
"The thing I was concerned about was sometimes you want to play your old team so bad that you end up being emotionally involved, and trying to do better instead of just playing your game. I thought tonight [Hartman] made two exceptional saves ... I think right now, he might be playing the best of any keeper in the league." - Hyndman
"For me, [the game] was very, very emotional, to play against my friends like that. But we were able to get three points out of it, giving us nine points for the last three games. That's huge for us, and allows us to gain a little bit of confidence and hopefully the second ten games of the season will put us in playoff position." - Hartman to ESPN.com's Josh Davis.
- In year's past this is a game FCD would have blown. FCD had a habit of finding a way to loose. Yet this one I never felt like FCD was going to blow. This team. it seems, has learned how to hold on and close out games.
- Announced 15k in the stands. Ok, could be. It was a better crowd than I expected given the weather. Props to FCD on the turn out.
El Camino Central (Middle of the Road)
- The last two game Ugo Ihemelu seems off. His one v one defending has been superb, particularly suing his pace to great effect. But some decisions and game reading have slipped. He's over reaching and making some bad decision that let's the opposition have a break in on the goal. Is he pressing? Trying to do to much as the leader back there? Hard to say.
- Pre-game show and FCD centric event on WFAA Channel 8 was great. Love it. Keep it coming. I applaud the effort and attempt to capitalize on the World Cup. But for goodness sake, can we police the staging of the event so there's not a guy in a Dallas Stars jersey sitting behind the talent the entire show? Talk about gorilla marketing. If it was done by the Stars on purpose then bravo, that's some tip top ninja skills bro. But I bet that's just a clueless mistake on someone's part and a massive fail. Second, don't let the talent call the team the Hoops when that's not the sanctioned name any more. *sigh* At least they spelled Hyndman's name right.
- Marvin Chavez has really brought something to the lineup the last two games. He can't finish to save his life, but he's blowing past people and creating danger. He's even playing solid defense. Unfortunately he's not fit enough and run out of gas at the 70 minute mark (give or take). Hyndman called him 85% fit. If Chavez gets 90 minute fit it will be a great help to this side.
- Side note from the press box: Does anyone else have as name "Z" ending last names as FCD? Hernandez, Benitez, and Chavez with Rodriguez on the way.
- Eric Avila, in the space of 30 seconds, had one of the sickest drag moves you'll ever see, followed up shortly by one of the most colossal point blank epic misses you'll ever see.
No Tan Bueno (Not So Good)
- This team is far to reliant on PKs. (Although it is nice they are getting them, it means there is a large amount of dangerous chances and penetrations in scoring positions). FCD's two leading scorers, Cunningham with 4 goals and Ferreira with 3, are mostly scoring via PKs. (Cunningham has 3 PKs and Ferreira 2. Thankfully FCD is 5 for 5 on PKs) To have your two top scorers living of PKs isn't good. Someone needs to start scoring from the run of play.
- I'm only going to touch on this briefly... Brek Shea's hair was an epic fail.
- Honorable mention epic fail to Zach Loyd's headband for the Karate Kid head band.
- Let's not beat a dead horse, but the finishing was again horrific. FCD should have been up 3 or 4 goals in the first half. Instead the game was tight the entire way and KC had a couple chances late to steal it.
"We've got some great crosses, but nobody is in front of the cross. Everybody is in the back part of the cross and Shavar Thomas was just right there knocking balls away." - Hyndman
- Late in the game on a free kick, Eric Avila ended up marking Shavar Thomas. That's a colossal match up error on FCD's part. Somebody blew the assignments. Avila against Thomas for a header is about as big as mismatch as you can have. That's even more epic fail than Shea's hair.
- If FCD is going to continue to have crowds like this, of one can hope even bigger, then they have to revisit their traffic flow. It was a nightmare. Words like colossal failure, meltdown, and galactic snarl fest come to mind. FCD needs to talk to the NASCAR people. Some simple mistakes? First, don't let people make decisions. Right them away in straight lines, no crossing and decision points. Second, pretty much everyone wants to go south on the tollway. So don't use the normal traffic signals at the tollway and the two major street. Put some traffic control there and roll people through it. Those lights were the cause of the entire mess.