New York 2 – Dallas 0: Shoddy Finishing Dooms Dallas

FC Dallas just couldn’t buy a break over the latter half of the season. A series of dominant performances in build-up play went to naught as their front free failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities. Last night against New York was no exception for the Red Stripes.

Henry and McCarty helped combat Dallas' 3-man central midfield, but that left New York very vulnerable on the flanks.

Schellas Hyndman used his preferred 4-2-3-1 and Hans Backe deployed a 4-4-1-1. While on paper Dallas had numbers in central midfield, Thierry Henry, playing underneath Dane Richards, put in a fine defensive shift to neutralize Dallas’ advantage. He often tightly marked holding mid Daniel Hernandez.

This was one of two reasons for Dallas to head to the wings. The other was the lack of pace on New York’s flanks. Backe used four central midfielders, with Joel Lindpere and Dax McCarty lining up wide left and wide right, respectively. Hyndman made use of his squad’s pace and instructed his wingers and fullbacks to send in early crosses (head on over to ESPN Dallas to see my chalkboard of Dallas’ crosses). The Red Bulls’ backline was often in shambles attempting to deal with the unexpectedly early service. Unfortunately for Dallas, Jackson and Marvin Chavez made a mess of the chances created by the excellent flank play.

Dallas' key passes (services that led to scoring opportunities) tended to come from deeper and wider positoins.

On the other end New York made a concerted effort to go up the middle through the outstanding vision of Marquez and Henry, both of whom linked well with Dane Richards. Dallas looked vulnerable when Richards darted inside-out: Ugo Ihemelu and George John both had to perform last ditch defending to prevent scoring opportunities.

Still, Dallas produced the lion’s share of dangerous chances, but Hyndman was let down not just by the poor finishing but also by one terrible sequence from the backline. An unpressured John made a terrible clearance, Zach Loyd failed to mark Lindpere a second later, and when Lindpere ran onto a cross after his shot was stopped by Kevin Hartman, neither John, Loyd, nor Ihemelu tracked Lindpere’s follow-up run. The outstanding Hartman was left helpless.

Henry’s mop-up tally was icing on the cake for Red Bulls fans. But for Schellas Hyndman, it represented everything his squad lacked, an attacker capable of turning an opportunity into a goal.

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