Saturday, August 9, 2014

Special Olympics Texas team defeats Special Olympics Colorado, 2-0, in match at Toyota Stadium

FRISCO, Texas _ Tonight at Toyota Stadium, the Special Olympics Texas team defeated the  Special Olympics Colorado team, 2-0, with both goals coming in the second half.

The match was played with full presentation from the FC Dallas staff, in front of an energetic and supportive crowd after the FC Dallas 3-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids, including the Dallas supporters groups, FC Drum and the entire first team.

It was a back and forth match, but the Texas club broke away in the second half. Jacob Hill opened the scoring in the 4th minute of the second half, finishing a series of attempts on goal with a low shot into the back of the net. Colorado worked to create their own chances, trying to get back into the match, but gave up a late breakaway eight minutes from time that Steven McIlheny finished to finalize the scoring.

Reece Halfmann was in goal for Dallas and made some late saves to preserve the shutout.

After the game, both teams were given medals at the end of the match from FC Dallas President and owner Dan Hunt, head coach Oscar Pareja and team captain Matt Hedges.

The center referee for the match was Rob Kucenski.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

FC Dallas wins a big one on Monday

Last night, FC Dallas (and the Philadelphia Union) won a substantive victory - the winner of the match between the two on August 12 (yes, Kyle's birthday!) will host the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final!

It was a coin flip shown live on Men In Blazers and  Pretty exciting stuff, in large part because the other side of the coin (literally) would have meant traveling to either Seattle or Chicago for the Final. Both venues have some history of filling a stadium for big games, although clearly the Sounders have been doing that for pretty much everything these days, whereas Chicago has been struggling over the past few years.

Obviously, Dallas does have to win next Tuesday for this to matter. If you do not have tickets, PLEASE consider getting them for that game. Clearly, having a big crowd has helped this team at times, so be a part of the success!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

FC Dallas beats Chvias USA - what it means

Quick update on the piece I did earlier on evaluating Dallas and the playoffs. Tonight, Dallas beat Chivas USA on the road for their first road win in almost four months.

It puts Dallas three points back of RSL and even on games. Catch-able.

It puts Dallas even on points with the Galaxy, although they have three games in hand. Not as catch-able, but not impossible.

But the other thing that it key here - Dallas hosts Colorado on the weekend. Currently Dallas is three points up on the Rapids and even on games. A win in that match, and that puts another three points between Dallas and Colorado. Big. Not "bring out the closing music" big, but big.

The other think to take away from tonight's game is this - Dallas once again was leading in the second half of a road game. Win or draw, that is good stuff. Shoot, add in the Open Cup matches and now you are looking at six road games in a row where Dallas has every reason to think they could have and maybe should have won.


Let that sink in, fellas. (The ladies have already figured this out. Trust me on this.)

Without Mauro Diaz.

And key in this is the development of three players - Akindele, Escobar and Castillo. Each had their own developing that needed to happen, and each of them have.  Now, once Diaz can go 90 minutes, you will likely see a switch back to a 4-2-3-1 with Escobar and Castillo on the wings. You will probably also see Blas Perez stay as the 1, which should not be a surprise. BUT. if Perez should falter, you have the rookie to bring in and he has shown he can contribute. Can he be The Starter, and all the pressure that implies? Maybe. Maybe not. But absolutely he can contribute. Which, in my eye, is why Perez won't falter. Love competition for starting spots.

But now that Castillo has matured some, and Escobar has worked his way into fitness and knowing the league, both are very dangerous. The speed and skill in Dallas' attacking four is borderline sick.

At least in terms of potential.

A few random thoughts on FC Dallas and playoff race

I usually touch on this in my MLS Rankings, but I wanted to go into a little more detail than I usually do there, so here goes.

First off, I think that a first goal for Pareja this season would be to establish his system, locker-room atmosphere, and start sifting through the players on the roster as he inherited a roster he had little input on. So far, so good. Clearly, this team has survived challenges that you can't without some real quality on the roster, cohesion and leadership - both from top down and from within.

Second, see how far you can take it. At the very least, get into the playoffs. On that part, so far so good as well. It isn't a lock, not by any means. The rest of the schedule has challenges and there are realistically seven teams right now in the West who have a chance to make the top five, barring a fantastic run from either San Jose or Chivas USA. Right now, Dallas is fourth in the West, three points behind Los Angeles, six behind Real Salt Lake and eight behind Seattle who sites at the top. Colorado, Vancouver and Portland trail.

With all the intra-conference games remaining, odds are that Seattle is likely in, and it is going to take something special for Real Salt Lake and the Galaxy to not make the playoffs. Set aside whether Dallas can catch any of them for a moment. But if that is true, then you are looking at four teams fighting for two spots, and Dallas currently is at the top of the four and seems to be the stronger side, especially considering Diaz is getting closer and closer to playing 90 minutes. Bottom line, it is going to take some real effort, but making the playoffs - and likely being fourth rather than fifth - is a legitimate possibility.

Third, can they do more than just get in to the 4-5 matchup? Recall that in MLS, the playoffs pit the 4 seed against the 5 seed in a one game playoff mid-week before a series against the No. 1 seed. It is a very tough ask for any team - win on a Wednesday, then play a home and home series with the best team in the conference that is rested. Not at the expense of making the playoffs at all, but if at all possible, this is something to be avoided.

It is here that I think we will see how good this team is. Much as FC Dallas fans might want to believe the team can win the conference, at this point, they are too many points behind with not enough games to play against the right teams. Yes, it is mathematically possible, and there certainly are enough games that it can happen. I am certainly not saying the team should not try. But taking the 10,000 foot view, it is not likely. Seattle, Los Angeles and RSL are too good to pass all three.

But not all three are going to stay hot. It IS possible to catch one of them for the No. 3 seed. And that is just what I think FC Dallas should try to do. I don't think it will mean the season was a failure if they don't, but at this point, that is the goal that can challenge them to maximize their potential.

My two cents. What do you think? Comments and feedback are always appreciated.