Schellas Hyndman has whisked up the soccer equivalent of "Making Lemonade out of Lemons" to good effect for his FC Dallas troops. It's not tasty-sweet lemonade, mind you, but its getting the job done.
Who needs possession and patient passing play when you can stretch your opponent's back line with your speedy forwards, while other end plays swarming, lock-down defense? Dallas conceded ownership of the ball almost 75% of the time, but had three times the shots on goal (7:2).
The great news is that the 4-1 drubbing from Sporting KC appears to have been a one-off affair. While Dallas wasn't necessarily the better team in its 2-1 win over Chivas USA, the team did return to its highly likable high-effort work rate. Movement and pressure from FCD helped create Chivas' numerous turnovers and Dallas' counterattacks.
The Home Depot Center also contains one of the league's biggest pitches (if not the biggest) and that certainly played into Dallas' strategy. Having Castillo and Chavez make wide runs continues to clear space for Shea to move inside. This is a wonderful maneuver and has created multiple chances (if not goals), but should we see someone else other than Brek making those runs into the box? Does Hyndman's plan allow for Jacobson, Hernandez or Alexander to move into that space? If so, it's not happening enough and the only criticism of the plan.
No matter, Brek is the team's most dangerous player and for two weeks in a row has scored goals a few notches higher in skill level than generally seen in MLS. Last week's run-dribble-calmly slot the ball past the keeper was a fantastic display of speed and skill. This weekend's goal showed off a different set of abilities which will continue to grow the kid's stature.
Dallas realizes its shortcomings and has glued together a strategy that makes the most of the remaining parts.
Couple of other notes:
Can Hyndman revisit the strategy of Ugo taking throw-ins deep down the touchline? I think I counted six attempts at this Saturday night and three of them somehow found their way straight back out, and the others failed to result in possession. I'm not sure what this strategy is, but its not working.
How different would this team be if they had a forward that could check back and hold the ball? Milton should be this person, but he's lack of speed hurts the team. Should fans expect an addition in July here?
Is Brek growing out a blonde version of some sort of creepy, tiny 1930's mustache, or was that a band-aide on his lip?
How great would it be if FCD had white shorts and socks to wear in away matches when the opponent also wears dark shorts/socks? (Chivas, RSL)
Hartman: 8 - Faultless on the goal, another great outing
Loyd: 7 - A strong improvement from last outing, still tends to chase the ball
Ugo: 8: - Throw-ins aside, a good night
John: 7 - Really solid, again. At some point does "unlucky" need to become maybe you don't take that chance and kick out at a shot?
Benitez: 5 - Has to be struggling with knee injury. Looks slower, is getting beat in 50/50's and passing has dropped way off
Alexander: 7 - Really nice match. Such poise on the ball in cramped space, and had one really nice sequence to relieve pressure out of the back. Also thought he was particularly good once team moved to 4-5-1. Needs to cut back on turnovers and have a larger impact on offense
Shea: 8 - See above.
Hernandez: 7 - Led the team in a redeeming performance
Jacobson: 8 - Extra points for two assists; one beautifully placed on purpose, the other beautifully placed even if unintended
Castillo: 6 - So much more effective when attacking from deep
Chavez: 6 - Effort and speed can make up for a lot of crummy decisions
Jackson: 9 - Hey, the decision to be in place was great, but the finish was of a high quality
Match Grade: B Watching Dallas sit, absorb and counter is not the entertaining, beautiful, passing style we came to love in 2010. But the team is winning and finding success with an equally likable level of effort and flashes of skill.