We’re still 6 months away from Dallas Cup XXXII, but the first Super Group team has been announced and it’s a doozie.
English Premier League giants Arsenal will bring their two time defending U18 Academy champions to Dallas for the prestigious youth tournament.
Liam Brady, Arsenal’s Academy Director said of the tournament on the Dallas Cup website–
The Dallas Cup gives our boys great competition against clubs from all over the world by which we can measure ourselves, and of course it is an opportunity to come to the United States and sample the culture which in itself is an education for the young players. Traveling and representing the Club is an important part of a player’s development, and appearing at a prestigious tournament like this will be a great test for our young players. We’re very thankful for the invitation to participate and look forward to the challenge next April. We know Arsenal has a huge following in the United States and we hope many fans will come to see our young talent.
This is great news for Dallas Cup junkies as it usually takes the first ball to drop for big teams around the world to commit to Dallas Cup in any given year and with Arsenal on board(no doubt influenced by tournament sponsors Nike), expect some other big teams to commit very soon.
FC Dallas practiced at 10AM on Field 5 this morning in preparation for their showdown in Salt Lake City on Saturday night with home field advantage in their likely playoff series on the line. It felt great to get back out to the practice field today for the first time in a couple of weeks. The schedule(and my sports radar) has been pretty cramped lately, but I hope the metroplex doesn’t completely ignore the amazing run FCD is on with all the Rangers hoopla going on.
The bulk of practice after I got there on an extremely windy but beautiful day was spent playing in a full 11v11 game of mostly starters against reserves.
-Everyone but Kevin Hartman is back and fully training. Kyle Davies has a knock and trained on the side for the most part, but George John, Ugo Ihemelu and Daniel Hernandez were all back. Hernandez looked great today in his second day of training back with the team. He put in a few nice tackles and scored one of his trademark 30 yard piledriver free kicks. Whether Schellas wants to risk starting him in Salt Lake is a question mark, but make no mistake Hernandez will be ready to go for the playoffs. Ugo and John played together at center back today in the scrimmage and it’s looking like they start this weekend. Lots more on that in the quotes from Schellas…In Kevin Hartman’s case I’ve been told he feels great and it’s just the goal kicks that are still hurting.
-For me, the player who stood out most in the scrimmage was Marvin Chavez. It’s truly amazing what a run of clean health and starting appearances has done to a player that looked on the way out 3 months ago. With his confidence at 100%, the happy-go-lucky Honduran is playing the best soccer of his FC Dallas career. He’s linking up with David Ferreira better than anyone on the team at the moment and had a sweet cross today to set up Jackson for a goal. As I’ve said before, he’s the secret weapon that teams aren’t accounting for who brings out the best in Ferreira.
–There’s an interesting late-season battle developing at the right mid position. Atiba Harris missed practice yesterday with a bit of a knock and the good play of Jackson has forced Schellas into a tough decision now that Hernandez is returning. Perhaps it won’t be a problem this weekend as Daniel will likely come off the bench allowing both Jackson and Atiba to start in Salt Lake, but don’t be surprised to see Jackson usurp Atiba’s position out on the right. The Brazilian scored a great goal today from a very tight angle off a low Marvin Chavez cross that went a bit beyond the goal but was fired home.
-Everyone else is looking very sharp. You can tell the young guys are beginning to hit that rookie wall, but other than that the players who need to be playing well right now are playing well. Ferreira is carrying himself with a swagger around the field, Milton and Jeff both looked extremely on today and the reserve defense is probably better than half the starting defenses in the league.
Read on for the possible date of the FCD playoff game and really good stuff from Schellas and Ugo
FC Dallas stumbled to a 2-2 draw against Colorado on a warm Saturday afternoon at Pizza Hut Park. Jeff Larentowicz, a thorn in Dallas’ side over the years, opened the scoring on what looked like a deflected shot that fooled Dario Sala to put Colorado ahead early.
FC Dallas would respond brilliantly, however, as Milton Rodriguez pulled things level with a poachers goal after Atiba Harris hit the cross bar and David Ferreira added another line to his MLS MVP resume with a great goal before halftime to put FC Dallas ahead.
Unfortunately, FCD came out with a lackluster effort in the second half allowing Larentowicz to score his second of the game in the 51st minute to tie the game up. FCD had many chances but was unable to find a winner and the teams shared the points.
–Tough to make many observations on a game I wasn’t able to see. Due to the ridiculous inability to record FSSW+ on Time Warner Cable(Does anyone else have this problem), I missed an FC Dallas game for the second time this season(the first being the Seattle home game on the night I proposed to my girlfriend). Don’t even get me started on the game REPLAY being blacked out on the MLS online video package….pure insanity.
-Three games in a row with a goal or assist for Marvin Chavez. The speedy Honduran is playing his best FC Dallas soccer at the perfect time. Chavez is the secret weapon for FCD that teams haven’t had to game plan for this season and his success is a key to playoff success. Schellas has some tough decisions to make once Brek gets back from Philadelphia.
More after the jump
Sorry again guys, life has gotten in the way which can happen sometimes. I ran across this quote from Schellas in the 10/4 Official FCD training report and wanted to share it with you
“I asked the guys a few games back, ‘do we have what it takes to compete for the Supporters’ Shield?’” FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman said. “If we don’t challenge ourselves, we have reached our goal and the season dies there. I won’t let that happen.”
If there was a phrase used to describe week 27 of the MLS season it would be “holding serve” as RSL, Dallas and Los Angeles all won games they should have against MLS teams whose seasons will be over in three weeks.
The Supporter’s Shield race is becoming a lot more clear now with three teams, all in the Western Conference, as the remaining contenders for the trophy. Sorry New York, but what is effectively a seven point gap to Los Angeles due to tiebreakers is too much to make up in three games. The Red Bulls are probably favorites to lift the Shield next season, but right now its a Western Conference party.
PTS GP GD
LAG 53 27 18
RSL 51 27 23
FCD 49 27 17
Last 5 games: 10 points
W @ Chivas, L vs Red Bulls, W vs United, W vs Crew, T @ Chicago
Next 3 games:
@ Philly, vs Rapids, vs FC Dallas
Why LA will win the Supporter’s Shield:
After a run of just one win in six that allowed FCD and RSL to get back in the race, Los Angeles has finally rounded into form again. They’ve feasted on some of the lesser teams in the league lately and gained their confidence back. The Galaxy will be watching that RSL vs FCD game in a couple of weeks very closely as a draw in that game all but locks up the shield if they can win at Philadelphia this weekend. It may not be pretty, but the Galaxy grinded out wins in three of their last four games. A win this weekend would be absolutely massive to the Galaxy’s hopes of winning the trophy as one slip between now and the FC Dallas game could open the door for Los Angeles to fall out of first place for the first time all season. Their main saving grace, however, is RSL’s extremely tough close to the season and Dallas having to win at Salt Lake and the Galaxy to win the Shield.
Why LA won’t win the Supporter’s Shield:
Their margin for error is down to zero. Just one slip in the next two games opens the door for RSL or Dallas to control their own destiny. RSL has a tough schedule, but they’re just two points behind with the tiebreaker while LA will surely want to avoid the scenario of having to hold off FC Dallas in a final game showdown for the Supporter’s Shield. Despite their win against Chivas, Landon Donovan looks extremely tired and off form while you never know what Edson Buddle will show up on the day
Odds of winning the trophy: 1/3
Last 5 games: 11 points
W @ New England, T vs Rapids, W vs Fire, T @ Sounders, W vs New York
Next 3 games:
@ New York, vs FC Dallas, @ Rapids
Why RSL will win the Supporter’s Shield:
Sitting just two points behind Los Angeles and with the goal differential tie breaker in their favor, RSL doesn’t need a whole lot of slippage from the Galaxy to take over top spot. Briefly first place on Saturday night, Salt Lake would love nothing more than to take first place in the home of their rivals on the last day. With Alvaro Saborio banging in goals right and left, RSL is a hot team that hasn’t lost in awhile and poses a dangerous threat to LA’s Shield hopes.
Why RSL won’t win the Supporter’s Shield:
It will probably take at least two wins and hoping FC Dallas wins at Los Angeles to close the season for Salt Lake to lift the trophy and that’s going to be a tough ask. With games left at two of the toughest places to play in the league, New York and Colorado, as well as their final home tilt against a team that hasn’t lost since May, it’s just tough to see where those points come from to pass up Los Angeles. You’ve got to think if FC Dallas is out of the Supporter’s Shield race going into that last game at LA, they’ll rest some of their starters so I’m afraid RSL will probably fall just short this year. More important for RSL is to secure home field advantage in the first round as a loss to Dallas could see that slip away from them.
Odds of winning the trophy: 5/1
Last 5 games: 9 points
W vs Chicago, W @ Kansas City, T vs Revolution, T vs New York, T @ San Jose
Next 3 games:
vs Rapids, @ RSL, @ Galaxy
Why FCD will win the Supporter’s Shield:
Unlike RSL, the only thing Dallas needs to control their destiny in the fight for first place is a Los Angeles slip up at Philadelphia this weekend. A Dallas win at home against Colorado coupled with LA dropping points would pull Dallas to within no more than two points of both LA and RSL with the last two games of the season at those two teams. Unbeaten in a league record-tying 18 games, Dallas proved the three consecutive draws were not a sign of something worse as FCD has reeled off two very impressive wins in their last two games. With six goals in the last two games, the offense is on a roll while the defense is getting healthy and just pitched its first shutout in four games. Winning at RSL and LA will be an extremely tough task, but if Dallas can somehow manage to walk into the Home Depot Center on the night of Sunday, October 24 needing three points to win their first major trophy in almost 15 years, you’ve got to think they’ll take their chance.
Why FCD won’t win the Supporter’s Shield:
Too many draws this season has left Dallas with no room for error. If the red and white fall a couple points short of the Shield, that 2-2 result against New England will be the draw that broke the camel’s back(you like that?). There’s no question whether FCD is talented enough to win at RSL but winning at a place where no one has won in well over a year is going to be a tough ask.
Odds of winning the trophy: 3/1
Do you think FCD can win the trophy? Do you even want Schellas to play the starters in the final game or are you in a wait and see after the Colorado game mode?
It was a record tying, celebratory night as Dallas scored a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Pizza Hut Park in a game that FCD dominated from start to finish to keep the Brimstone Cup in Dallas for a ninth straight season.
I thought they had an excellent game, a good performance…we keep talking about all the players we’re missing, and then tonight you couldn’t tell…the other thing is we just won the Brimstone Cup again so it stays in our trophy case and that was a big thing we talked about this week…What a great night for FC Dallas
Dallas started the scoring early as Kwame Watson-Siriboe misplayed a Dario Sala kick to free Milton Rodriguez who lashed home a chance that he made look much easier than it was.
From there, the red and white pretty much cruised against a Chicago team that returned to its form offensively that’s seen them score in one of their last six games. Marvin Chavez rewarded Schellas Hyndman’s decision to start him over Brek Shea with a deflected goal right after halftime while Jeff Cunningham drew and scored a penalty kick to tie Jaime Moreno’s all-time MLS goal scoring record of 132.
The feeling in the locker room after the game was a little bit of relief and a lot of excitement. Clearly the unbeaten streak is nice, but our goal from the day one of the pre-season was to make the playoffs. We knew we were a good team and we had enough talented players to get there and it’s obviously shown…we talked about all week we want to clinch a playoff spot in front of our own fans…to clinch in front of our fans especially winning the Brimstone Cup is certainly a great feeling and one that I think our fans will cherish especially because we haven’t been to the playoffs in a couple of years and everyone’s looking forward to it. It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere and we’re going to get a really good crowd no matter who we play.
-Last night was the culmination of two years of very hard work for Schellas Hyndman and he deserves all the praise this week. On October 2, 2008, FC Dallas fell out of playoff contention with a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against a bad San Jose team in front of a lifeless crowd announced around 7,000 but was probably about half that. Schellas Hyndman was a coach who had yet to gain his locker room and was criticized intensely. On October 2, 2010, Hyndman sits as the favorite for MLS Coach of the Year with harmony in the locker room, a growing fan base in the stands and a team challenging for the Supporter’s Shield full of young exciting talent mixed with veteran depth. I’ll have a lot more thoughts about the season later this week, but right now everyone should raise a glass to coach Hyndman because his hard work and unshakable self-belief has put FC Dallas in the position they’re in today.
We’ve worked so hard in the last two years to be in this position to clinch a playoff spot. And I’ve lost a lot of sleep thinking about things, it’s been very stressful, things didn’t go very well in the beginning.
Many of you continued to support me which I’m always grateful for but until you get the right players on the field that are committed to the team’s objectives and committed to each other these things won’t happen. I think right now it’s all about the team.
The team chemistry and the hard work they put in for each other. How many teams around the league can lose four to five starters and still find ways of getting points. You remember the word I always use was we want to develop a culture of winning and I think we have that now
The rest of the game thoughts after a 3-0 win and more after the jump
-Milton Rodriguez is really rounding into form and growing in confidence every game. That finish last night was made to look a hell of a lot easier than it was, and he hit that shot like a forward who really trusts himself right now. Great goal last night
-Chavez starting ahead of Brek Shea shows he’s earned Schellas Hyndman’s trust. It’s taken a full season, but Marvin Chavez is finally up to speed in MLS and should be a huge contributor to this team in the future. Just as important as his on-field exploits, Chavez is one of the happy-go-lucky leaders of the spanish speaking players in practice and the locker room. It’s going to be very interesting with Shea going to the national team after next week’s game to see if Chavez remains in the starting lineup. He’s certainly made Hyndman’s decision very difficult with his play…2 goals in 2 games for el hijo del viento
–Dario didn’t have a lot to do last night, but made the plays when he had to. Chicago’s attack was flat awful, mostly due to Dallas’ pressure, leaving Dario without many saves to make, but he was off his line quickly on Nyarko’s chance in the first half to keep the game scoreless. First shutout of the season for Dario and second win in a row. Was one of my favorite moments of the season to see him take the Brimstone Cup to the Supporter’s Section which you can see video of on my Qik page
–What more can be said about Ferreira? The guy finishes the game with just one assist, but he had a big hand in all three goals, with a play on the Sala kick as well as a world class ball to Cunningham before he drew the penalty. His late season push is putting him squarely in the league MVP consideration. If he was with a sexier team in the league, it wouldn’t be a contest.
-You know it’s been a great game when Jeff Cunningham ties the MLS scoring record and it isn’t even the top story. Jeff has found his role with this team and is as good of a front running forward as we have in the league. Three game scoring streak for Jeff, let’s see him break the record next Saturday and finally talk to the media again. Perhaps his contract will need to be renegotiated as he’s a pretty expensive substitute, but he’s earned another year in Dallas. Jeff is averaging a goal ever 121 minutes this season, not too far off his Golden Boot winning season of last year in which he averaged a goal every 112 minutes.
–It was an announced attendance of just over 10,600, but it felt much higher than that. Attendance isn’t where we all want it to be yet, but the fan base for the team is definitely growing and is way more vocal than in the past. P.S. Whoever does that chant on the west side after FCD scores…brilliant. Keep it up.
–Three games to play and if Chivas can hold Los Angeles to a draw tonight, 9 points would see FC Dallas lift the Supporter’s Shield. At this point does anyone really doubt this team will at least fight for the trophy until the end?
Apologies for the lack of updates this week, but I’ve been fighting a sickness all week that’s left me unable to do much besides sneeze. It’s finally subsiding in time for what is a huge sports day for me tomorrow as my Sooners take on Texas and FC Dallas has a huge home game against Chicago.
It’s another game at home where FC Dallas are certainly big favorites and it’s another game where FC Dallas needs 3 points to keep pace in the fight for home field advantage in the first round and a possible Supporter’s Shield.
Chicago comes to Frisco on a high after their best result of the season, a 3-0 win on Wednesday night away to San Jose. The Fire are a team with a lot of big names on offense but not many goals to show for it. Prior to their three goal outburst in San Jose, Chicago had failed to score a goal in its previous four games.
In watching Chicago this season, I’ve seen a team that looks to have a lot of talent, but just isn’t very mentally strong. Not unlike Dallas teams of the past, Chicago is prone to red cards and late goals(20 of the 32 goals Chicago has allowed have come in the last 15 minutes of each half). Time after time this season, Chicago has played a very good 90 minutes only to lose to late goals. Against San Jose, the Fire finally put together a complete performance and showed everyone what they’re capable of demolishing a very good San Jose team at home, but the question remains as to whether they can string two good performances together. Ten points behind the Earthquakes for the final playoff spot, Chicago likely needs to win their five remaining games to have any change of making the playoffs. The Fire have three wins and one draw in 15 games at Dallas.
FCD is a team flying high after one of their best performances of the season, a 3-1 victory at a cold, rainy Community America Ballpark against Kansas City in a game where Dallas was missing five starters. It could be a record breaking night at Pizza Hut Park in more ways than one. Dallas can tie the all-time MLS unbeaten record of 18 games with a result while Jeff Cunningham sits at 131 goals, just one shy of the MLS record held by Jaime Moreno. After a string of six straight home wins in which Dallas allowed just one goal, they’ve struggled a bit at home in September drawing New York and New England while allowing four goals in the two games.
Dallas will be boosted by the possible return of two starters as Brek Shea will surely be in the starting lineup as he comes back from a two game suspension while George John will at least feature on the bench and could also start for Dallas. While Shea will certainly return to the lineup for Chavez, it will be interesting to see whether Jackson is moved back to center back or remains in his role at defensive mid with Dax McCarty returning in place of Eric Alexander.
Keys to the game and lots of links after the jump