FC Dallas Shifts to a 4-4-2

A couple of weeks ago, we attempted to catalog the changes Schellas Hyndman had brought to FC Dallas in the wake of David Ferreira’s injury. The problem, of course, was that he hadn’t yet made any changes.

However, in the last two matches, Hyndman has rolled out two new formations, a 4-4-1-1 in a 1-0 win over Toronto FC and a 4-4-2 in a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union. I’ve written about both matches for ESPN Dallas’ 3rd Degree, but, in brief, Hyndman has reduced his squad’s focus on maintaining possession.

Without Ferreira pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch, Dallas struggled to find a killer pass in the final third. Hyndman, realizing he’s never going to be able to clone Ferreira with any of his available players, has decided that there’s no need to hold onto the ball for long stretches. Instead, his side is playing very, very directly, making particular use of the pace of strikers Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez and winger Brek Shea.

The result has been a side that never has the ball for very long. But when they do, the opposition has to give them their full attention. Slight mistakes by both Toronto and Philadelphia were punished to devastating effect. Toronto lost despite maintaining possession for almost 60% of the match. Philadelphia actually eclipsed that mark yet never even appeared close to equalizing.

Next week, Hyndman’s new strategy will receive a stern test, as Real Salt Lake, MLS’ masters of possession, visits Pizza Hut Park.

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