Written by Phil Cerroni
By Phil Cerroni
FCD 3, HOU 2
FC Dallas faced off against long-time rival Houston Dynamo in a heavily contested home game on Mar. 17, filled with brute physicality and flashy goals.
FC Dallas head coach, Schellas Hyndman, made some key switches in his midfield line for this game, deciding to move Kenny Cooper from forward to right midfield where he could harry the other team alongside “Super Raton” (Mighty Mouse) Blas Perez. Hyndman also moved Michel from defense to center midfield to anchor the Blas-Kenny smash brothers.
The new midfield line worked well as existing midfielder Andrew Jacobson meshed with Michel and Cooper fit nicely into his new role.
“I think we all want to find the Kenny that left here,” Hyndman said. “That’s the Kenny we remember; that’s the Kenny we worked awfully hard to get back.”
With possession split almost 50/50 during the physical first half, both teams hustled for possession of ground balls and fought over headers, and the rough game play made it contentious whether or not players were diving or actually being fouled. It was Dallas who eventually exploited the unsettled situation, scoring two goals late in the half. Defender George John scored the first, followed a minute later by a goal by Andrew Jacobson off David Ferreira’s corner kick.
The fact that FC Dallas scored both these goals of set plays is a significant accomplishment as Houston is known for its ability to control the ball in the air.
“One of the most dangerous scores in soccer is 2-0,” Hyndman explained. “You put it a little on cruise control … and …the opposition comes in and ends up scoring 1. They have the momentum; they have the belief; you just lost your mental strength. It’s hard to turn it back on, and normally you’ll see a second goal come, and it happened today.”
FC Dallas found itself in a similar situation when they played Chivas USA in 2012. Dallas scored first, only to give up 3 goals later in the game. Hyndman said that a large portion of their training since then has been focused on keeping the game close when they have that type of lead.
“We went too far forward [against Chivas]. We got too many people going forward, and [that] gave us problems on the counterattack and not enough support in the back,” he said.
Going into the second half, Houston adjusted their formation to counter Dallas’ powerhouse midfield and managed to shut down Dallas’ offense while penetrating their defense for two quick scores of their own. Houston’s Andrew Driver scored 19 minutes into the second half, bouncing his shot off the top post and into the goal. After the play, Dallas goal keeper, Raul Fernandez, was sprawled on the turf inside the goal. It was only a minor setback, and after a trainer came out he was able to continue in his position for the remainder of the game.
Houston’s second goal was the product of a chaotic situation when Fernandez came out of the goal to block a shot by Houston forward, Cam Weave. However, Fernandez’s successful block set the ball up perfectly for midfielder Brad Davis who sent it high into the back post even though FC Dallas defender, Zach Loyd, did his best to cover the goal while Fernandez was out.
With less than a minute left on the clock, a quick pass to Cooper in the center opened him up to score the game’s winning goal for a final score of 3-2, Dallas. What ensued was a blitzkrieg by the Dynamo in a desperate attempt to tie the game in the match’s remaining seconds, but Fernandez, ready and recuperated, ensured that it was a futile effort.
The win over Houston makes Dallas’ record 2-1, giving them positive momentum for their Mar. 23 match vs. Real Salt Lake. Houston left the match 1-1.