Fabian Castillo was still absent. Schellas Hyndman still used a 4-2-3-1. And FC Dallas still recorded a victory.
On Saturday, in contrast to the two squads' encounter in April - when Columbus had a 55%-44% possession advantage - Dallas held the ball for 59% of the match. This advantage was, in large part, due to the formations. Hyndman, as noted, trotted out a 4-2-3-1 while Robert Warzycha deployed a 4-4-2. The Crew were outgunned in the middle of the pitch.
Dallas' three central midfielders, as observed in the following chalkboard (interactable version here), completed more than twice as many passes as Columbus' pair of center mids. Daniel Hernandez, Andrew Jacobson, and Eric Alexander also covered a lot more ground. Emmanuel Ekpo and Rich Balchan were restricted to the middle of the pitch. In order for Columbus to combat Dallas' advantage in this area, one of the strikers needed to drop into midfield. Andres Mendoza and Tommy Heinemann weren't up for the challenge. The pair completed only 11 passes and were often 20 or more yards from their nearest teammate.
The formation advantage helped the Hoops defensively as well. Even though they completed 60 more passes than Columbus, Dallas intercepted 7 times as many passes (7 to 1). The home side often used those interceptions as a springboard for creating shots. The unexpected possession changes allowed them to push forward before Columbus' defense could get organized. The visitors, though, did an outstanding job throwing themselves in front of Dallas shots, blocking 7.
The Red Stripes continued their tendency of attacking from the wings and eventually the Columbus defense made a mistake. In the 58th, Jackson and Zach Loyd combined on the right flank to create an opening for Marvin Chavez, whose shot was bobbled by Hesmer and subsequently knocked-in by Shea.
Later, an off-target William Hesmer goal kick fell to Jacobson. With the Columbus defense not prepared for the quick possession change, Jacobson was able to send Jackson behind the backline. The Brazilian continued his fine run of form with an excellent chip over the outstretched Hesmer. The quality play from Jackson and Shea, as well as the interplay between the midfield trio, was enough to ensure the full 3 points.
Blake Owen is the editor and publisher of futbolforgringos.com.