Schellas Hyndman’s transition to MLS reached a milestone on Thursday as the long-time SMU coach earned his first point in charge of FC Dallas. The Hoops showed far more energy and promise than they did against the Red Bulls a week earlier, and the result also helped the club walk away with the prize awarded to the winner of this Texas season series.
Houston can’t be happy. The Dynamo continue to struggle for wins and still haven’t shown the championship form expected of a two-time MLS Cup winner. Three straight matches without a win is troubling, especially considering the wasted chance Houston had to pull away from the lower teams in the Western Conference.
SBI correspondents Alex Swaim and Casey Corcoran took in the action and share their thoughts with us.
Another Dynamo tie is cause for concern
By ALEX SWAIM
There’s something different about this year’s Dynamo team.
They have (almost) the same core of players. They control the pace of the game and the midfield well. Except for the occasional lapse, the defense is rock solid.
But they’re missing something. And it’s not just a forward – so long as Dwayne DeRosario is healthy and available there’s no lack of danger up top – it’s something you can’t put your finger on easily.
The last ten minutes of the game the whole stadium seemed to be charged with an anticipation. Everybody didn’t seem to just believe that the Dynamo would score again to win it, they KNEW it was going to happen. And why not? Us Dynamo fans have seen it happen time after time. When they play in a certain way – characterized by constant attacking runs up top followed by gasp-inducing last-defender stops by counterattacking opponents – the Dynamo WILL score when the pressure’s on.
But it never came. The fans kept jumping and singing. The Dynamo kept attacking. But it never came. La Naranja ran out of time too soon.
The worst part of it is that it came against an FC Dallas team that spent more time on the ground whining about phantom fouls and jumping into the backs of players who are looking up at the ball than they did trying to play soccer. And they still somehow won El Capitan from us? It sounds like a bad joke to me.
If anybody ever doubts that the hoops are a bunch of "thugs" – as the so often like to say about Eddie Robinson – then just have them watch this game. It didn’t help that the ref would only call arm-based
fouls, and nothing involving being hit from behind. I stopped counting of the number of FC Dallas tackles that never came close to the ball but took down an orange shirt at 20. Three of those – including Pablo Ricchetti’s – were called.
Ricchetti’s foul was an especially bad call. With Stuart Holden on a breakaway just outside the box, Ricchetti did all he could to stop him. He kicked Holden in the back of the knee.
And he got a yellow for it.
A yellow? Are you KIDDING ME!
I can only hope that the MLS disciplinary comity does it’s job and gives him a three-game suspension.
And yet they walk away with El Capitan, despite not having defeated the Dynamo in the regular season.
After the game, the players weren’t happy with themselves. It was a game they should have won. But at the end of the day, they didn’t win it. And that’s the difference between this season’s team and last.
They just aren’t winning the games they’re dominating. Every Brian Ching header has been canceled out by a Patrick Ianni mis-mark.
It’s up to Dominic Kinnear now. He’s got to find a way to start winning.
Hoops show signs of improvement
By CASEY CORCORAN
Did anyone else notice that the first half of this game seemed a lot like a WNBA game? No? Just me?
The triple overtime WNBA game did save FC Dallas fans from seeing Houston take the lead with a header from Brian Ching. When the basketball game finally finished, the first half had already elapsed. From what I could tell from watching, FCD ran its new 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield formation. The first ten minutes after the half were cringe worthy, with FCD passes missing their mark over half the time. I could see two forwards, an attacking mid, wingers and a defensive mid, but the back line was completely out of sorts. I am not sure I have ever seen a four man defensive line so staggered. If this was intended, they did an amazing job of it. The passing did get much better, and possession even forced play in to Houston’s half. While the passing improved, the defensive line continued to be completely out of sorts, leading to multiple attacks with no defensive help. I am not sure but I believe coach Schellas Hyndman did revert to three in the back when he sent on Dominic Oduro for Aaron Pitchkolan. If he did not, it sure did look that way.
This new formation leads to more possession play along the sidelines, and when things are going well, easier outlets for attacking. There were various times FCD players had to work incredibly hard to get out of the small corridor they forced themselves in to on the sidelines. With time, this should improve. Something that screamed to me was how open the center of midfield tended to be, time and time again. With the diamond formation, the center will be left open, but usually a defensive midfielder is the stop gap to prevent attacks straight up the gut. Again, with the new formation, it was obvious there are still some learning pains.
I am not sure Marcelo Saragosa is the answer at one of the midfield spots. I like Saragosa, but his possession and outlet play is just not that impressive. Oduro is not supposed to be a distributer either, but his passing was lacking this game. Even the venerable Dax McCarty looked very rusty coming off his rehab from sports hernia surgery. Andre Rocha looked as crisp as ever, putting beautiful passes on to his targets. All in all it just looked like a mid season team using a new formation; ie banged up and still learning.
Boy was FCD scrappy this game. I even sat there and got to enjoy some frenetic, energetic soccer for a good thirty minutes. The official held back his whistle and card giving more than most. The best example of this was leaving Pablo Ricchetti on the field with a yellow. Ricchetti probably deserved a straight red, and the lenient call most likely saved FCD a point. Later in the game a similar foul on Oduro went uncalled, call it a makeup call I guess. Overall, while poor officiating, the game did benefit. I cannot speak for the first half of the game, but the second half was quite entertaining.
Eric Avila got to see what first team soccer is like very late in the game. It was hard to judge him in such a small time frame. I think his only touch was a lob pass pushed a little hard. Avila came on for the man who made the point possible, Juan Toja. Originally I thought the beautiful run down the line was made by Arturo Alvarez, because Alvarez has made the same move many times before. But it was Toja who dribbled with the ball past defenders all the way from midfield. He crossed the ball to a completely open, picnic taking, book reading Kenny Cooper. Tally eight goals for Cooper this season. Hopefully the productivity yields something besides a low table spot for FCD and a move abroad for Cooper.
It is interesting how similar the two goals scored were. Two crosses. Two completely open USMNT forwards. Two goals. I actually like Brian Ching, I just hope Cooper gets a shot soon.
Well, good news to take from this game for FCD. For the first time in team history FCD comes home with El Capitan, resulting from three ties with Houston and a higher away goal differential. A new formation, a new coach, a point on the road. Things went decently well for FCD this week.