Blog Archives

Seeing Red

Hernandez & Perez lack common sense in 2-0 loss to Colorado

FC Dallas has had an awful start to the 2012 MLS season.  Not so much in terms of points (12 so far from 10 games, in 6th place in the Western Conference), but because of injuries.  The injured list is so ridiculously long that the club had to bring in an extra player last week (former Timbers man James Marcelin) to augment the weakened squad.  It’s a nightmare scenario for manager Schellas Hyndman, as even Brek Shea missed Sunday night’s home clash with Colorado due to turf toe issues.

Knowing the team is scraping to get by, veteran (and former captain) Daniel Hernandez received two yellow cards in short succession, earning himself an early trip to the showers, all in the first half hour against Colorado.  Two minutes after the Hernandez ejection, new FCD forward Blas Perez received a red card for a bone-headed, cleats up collision with the Rapids’ Drew Moor.  Suddenly, with nearly an hour of the match remaining, Dallas had nine players and little chance of winning an important match.

The Perez red card might’ve been debatable, but it was probably deserved.  Hernandez’s two yellows were certainly deserved.  They were both very petty offenses committed by veteran players who should know better.

The Hernandez cards were particularly problematic because he received the first one for mouthing off at the ref.  It was ridiculous, immature, and unacceptable behavior from one of the team leaders.  Hernandez is a tough dude and has been a solid midfielder for Dallas the past few seasons, but he is too mouthy, and this time it is really going to cost his team.  Hernandez has earned two red cards already this season.  He seems to have lost a step, which has made him prone to irrational challenges.  He would be much better suited to a substitute role this season, but Dallas’ current injury situation makes that difficult.

The Perez challenge was very unwise considering that Hernandez had just been ejected.  Perez seemed to be a great acquisition at the season’s start, but I’d like to see more goals and fewer off-the-ball shenanigans from him.  Just play the game!

The mental lapse of two players with so much experience hurts Dallas during a crucial week with Seattle visiting on Wednesday and a trip to Columbus Saturday.  Having lost to Colorado, these next two matches are even more important.  The ejections were also a slap in the face to FC Dallas fans that didn’t pay to see the team limp their way through an hour of the match with nine men (as valiant as they were) on their way to a 2-0 defeat.

What do you think?  Am I being too harsh with these red card criticisms?

Advertisements

My First Trip of 2012 to FC Dallas Stadium

In which FC Dallas gifts Portland Timbers a goal for 1 – 1 draw

I spent St. Patty’s day, or evening actually, at FC Dallas Stadium (formerly Pizza Hut Park).  I wasn’t able to make it to the season opener last Sunday versus NY Red Bulls as I was traveling with my family on spring break.  I enjoyed watching FCD beat the Red Bulls on NBC Sports Network though and thoroughly enjoyed their coverage.  NBC didn’t dumb anything down at all (unlike a certain channel that starts with an “F” and ends with an “ox” during their nationally televised Champions League final).  So Saturday night was my first opportunity of the 2012 season to see FCD live as they battled the ax men from the northwest, better known as the Portland Timbers.  Here are my random musings on the match experience:

FCD’s new forward Blas Perez of Panama (I think he should go by that full moniker, including “of Panama” just for fun) has been impressive in his first two games.  He kept the Timbers on their toes in the first half (scoring FCD’s only goal), but in the second they paid closer attention to his wily maneuverings and that, coupled with a lack of offensive support from his FCD cronies, kept him from threatening as much.

Enjoyment of a match in person is seriously affected by those seated around you.  Most of my experiences at FCD games have been quite positive, but last night I had a trio of male knuckleheads babbling incessantly behind me.  They quickly beat everyone over the head with the fact they are Timbers fans, though only one had on a Timbers jacket (the other two inexplicably wore a Man U jacket and an old Dallas Burn jersey).  They regaled the rest of us with comedic gems like “Nice dive!” (directed at an FCD player), quickly followed by “Nice scuba suit!”  They also got a kick out of “Hey linesman, your sports bra too tight?” which I thought was a blow aimed at the poor linesman’s manhood until I realized that he actually was wearing some sort of clearly visible sports bra-like device under his ref jersey.  As if fans need further excuse to ridicule refs!  Not sure what that was all about – perhaps MLS is tracking refs’ vital signs this year via the bra, I mean device.  The Timber Trio’s favorite barb of the night though was their admonishment to any FCD player who got knocked down to “Hit the weights!”  They apparently thought this sage advice since they screamed it approximately one thousand times during the match.  Oddly enough, the motor mouths didn’t appear to be drunk at all.

Vuvuzelas mar the soccer world.  Unfortunately, the plastic horn menaces – that sound like a cross between a wounded Wookie and an elephant – are a perpetual presence at FCD matches.  I much prefer the steady crowd roar, singing, and chanting of European matches to vuvuzelas and drum beating.  The honk of the vuvuzela is a truly melancholy wail that sounds downright depressing, particularly in the 88th minute when your team is tied or losing and could use an aural spark.  That’s the main problem with vuvus – they’re not peppy in the least.  Perhaps the suits think vuvus help create “atmosphere”.  They are mistaken.  Vuvus sound ridiculous and aren’t festive in the least.  The only good thing about vuvus is that every time I hear one I’m reminded of Will Ferrell as “Jeff Vuvuzela” at the Espy’s a couple years ago.

FC Dallas has made several improvements to the match experience for fans.  I like the new seating right behind the north goal, which helps a bit to enclose the cavernous stage/beer garden space.  The halftime videos hosted by Vydra were very well done and quite entertaining – I particularly enjoyed the Q&A with Ricardo Villar in which he had to choose between random things like “Man City or Man U” (I forgive him for choosing Man U – was hoping he’d say “neither”).  One improvement the club still desperately needs however is a larger on-site team store.  The current shoebox size shop is entirely inadequate.  Saturday night before the game they had to use a frazzled bouncer to allow folks in a few at a time, but even then, once finally inside, the shop was literally shoulder-to-shoulder which made it impossible to fully browse the merchandise.

 

As for the match, Dallas controlled the first half, but the Timbers adequately adjusted after halftime and came out looking like a different team.  Even so, the Dallas defense (led by Ugo Ihemelu and Zach Loyd) was solid and likely would’ve held on to win were it not for Kevin Hartman’s uncharacteristic blunder in which he booted the ball straight up to the top of his own box where Portland’s Darlington Nagbe was waiting to pounce and slipped in an easy goal to tie the game.  Unfortunately, Dallas often found themselves short-handed on the attack as the spark provided by Loyd’s wing runs in the first half virtually disappeared in the second.  There was precious little offensive creativity from Dallas in the second half (which only encouraged the restless vuvuzela blowers).  FCD really needs David Ferreira back from injury and Brek Shea back from Olympic qualifying duty!

Despite the vuvus and obnoxious Timbers fans, it was a good time as usual at FC Dallas Stadium.  The draw was disappointing, but Dallas generally looks strong and should be very competitive this year.

Where do you think FC Dallas will finish in the Western Conference standings this year?

New Jerseys

Spring brings new kits for U.S. Men and FC Dallas

I’m on the fence about the new U.S. away jersey.  At first glance last Wednesday against Italy I was iffy about the white sleeves because it made the sleeves look like cut-offs.  But I’m starting to come around.

The new design retains the retro diagonal stripe, though it is now black.  I’m not a fan of the new penchant to include black in the red, white, and blue mix (like the all-black U.S. Women’s uniforms).  Like many U.S. fans, I’d like to see the red third shirt become a mainstay.  Nevertheless, the new away look is slowly growing on me, and of course it doesn’t hurt that it is now associated with that historic 1-0 defeat of Italy!

FC Dallas also unveiled their new home and away jerseys on Thursday.  I think the home shirts are a classy, subtle improvement on the now familiar horizontal red/white stripes.

I also really like the return of some gray in the blue/white away shirt.

A lot of fans would like to see FCD join the ranks of teams with sponsored jerseys.  I would be fine with it as long as the sponsor’s logo doesn’t radically clash with team colors (i.e. Philadelphia’s Bimbo shirt), but in the meantime I like FCD’s uncluttered jerseys.

It would be fun to see FC Dallas throw a third jersey into the mix, perhaps a departure from the usual “hoops”.  Other MLS teams are starting to experiment with third jerseys (I think the Timbers’ third shirt for this season is pretty cool).

The unveiling of new jerseys means the new MLS season is just around the corner!  FC Dallas kicks off (at home) against NY Red Bulls next Sunday, March 11 on NBC Sports Network.

What do you think about the new U.S. and FC Dallas jerseys?

My Evening in “The Oven”

Watching FC Dallas roast Chivas USA 1 – 0

I was at The Oven, a.k.a. Pizza Hut Park, last night so I can verify that it was indeed too hot for soccer.  Or any other outdoor activity.  I’m pretty sure I could’ve baked a pizza just by setting one in the empty seat beside me.  Apparently, last night’s 102 degree temps set a record high for a match at PHP, though having lived in DFW ten years now, I’m surprised the record is “only” 102.  Oh, and did I mention this was an evening match (kickoff was 6:00 PM)?  It was so hot, the game was even stopped around the 40-minute mark for a water break.  I’ve never seen that in a pro soccer game before.  They should’ve had a Slip & Slide on the sideline for the players.

I think the Europeans have it right – soccer in the fall/winter/spring and take the summer off.  I’ve always preferred watching and playing soccer in the cold.  Of course, I understand why MLS has to schedule the bulk of the season away from American football, which dominates the sports landscape here from September to January.  But it sure would be nice to have to wear a coat to PHP for a change!

As for the game, the teams looked understandably sapped from the opening whistle.  Even so, Dallas was clearly the faster, more aggressive side.  Poor Chivas USA fans – their team was absolutely dreadful.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a professional team pass and dribble the ball out of bounds so frequently.  Dallas looked worst than I’ve seen them since the beginning of the season (probably the result of the heat and their packed July schedule).  And yet for the most part they dominated Chivas.

Dallas missed the midfield presence and distribution of captain Daniel Hernandez who was being rested.  Forwards Ruben Luna and (later) Maykel Galindo frustrated fans with their hesitance, off-target shots, and poor possession in front of the Chivas goal.    Brek Shea had a relatively quiet game, though he was refreshingly willing to run the ball into space (unlike several of his offensive teammates).  Fortunately, Marvin Chavez ripped a 26th minute shot that ricocheted off Chivas defender Heath Pearce to give FCD the game’s only goal.

The best thing about Dallas was goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and his often unsung back four:  Ugo Ihemelu, Zach Loyd, George John, and Jair Benitez.  The defense recorded their 12th shutout of the season, which leads MLS.  The Dallas D isn’t flashy, brash, or dirty.  They simply play fundamental defense as an airtight unit.  I don’t mean to downplay Hartman’s saves – there have certainly been plenty – but he has perhaps the league’s best fullbacks in front of him.

It was fun to see Ihemelu and John enjoying their jobs as well.  During a pause in the action late in the game, Ihemelu playfully offered to squirt the head of the linesman with a water bottle.  Unfortunately, the linesman declined.  A moment later, George John amused the crowd by nodding his agreement and giving thumbs up to one fan’s loud admonishment for John to shoot from midfield since no one else was getting anything on-goal.

Considering the extreme heat, a surprisingly decent crowd of 10,000 made it to the match.  Not bad for FCD at the end of July.  But later at home I watched highlights of Toronto at Portland and saw the Timbers’ rocking, jam-packed JELD-WEN Field.  Wow!  Going to FCD games would be a completely different experience if we had sellouts every game.  I’m jealous of the Northwestern teams.  I’m glad for them and for the league.  But I’m jealous.  It seems no one can put their finger on why FCD doesn’t draw more fans.  I hear people around me ask the question every time I go to a game.  The club has a fiercely loyal following – it’s just a small fiercely loyal following.  Soccer fans in the Dallas area are missing out if they’re not tuned in to the current FCD squad, which may very well be the best team in franchise history.

Does FC Dallas have the best defense in MLS?