Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Will Dallas play Texas hold 'em?
by Ridge Mahoney, November 2nd, 2007 7AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

The 1-0 first leg may have been decided by a rather fluky goal, but for much of the game FC Dallas bossed the midfield. To overcome that one-goal deficit Houston must take command in the middle third so Dwayne DeRosario can slice forward to take cracks at goal and thread through-balls, and Brian Mullan can provide quality service from the flanks.

HOUSTON vs. FC DALLAS
Western Conference semifinal, second leg
(Dallas leads, 1-0, on aggregate)
Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET, Direct Kick, mlslive.tv

In midfielders Juan Toja and Pablo Ricchetti, FCD has smart, skillful players who can win the ball and play it forward intelligently. The range of Toja, the positioning of Ricchetti, and the tenacity of Adrian Serioux are formidable barriers.

A Serioux throw-in cleared defenders Craig Waibel and Eddie Robinson as keeper Pat Onstad inexplicably backed up. Had Onstad held his position he would have caught the ball easily. Instead, it bounced on the edge of the goal area and caromed off defender Ryan Cochrane to FCD defender Clarence Goodson, who blasted home the sitter.

Ricchetti and Serioux effectively clogged the passing lanes for much of the match and severely limited the supply to forwards Brian Ching and Joseph Ngwenya.

The Dynamo failed to exploit Ching's ability to play with his back to goal and chipped balls into space rather than play to his feet and chest, and managed only four shots on goal.

FCD also committed 23 fouls, indicative of its occasional inability to win the ball cleanly. Houston can put pressure on the FCD back line by crisper, one-touch passing and playing smarter balls for Mullan, who can't outpace left back Chris Gbandi if the latter has a cushion but can deliver accurate crosses if he gets a step on his marker.

On its way to the title last year, Houston lost the first leg of the conference semifinals to Chivas USA, 2-1, and advanced on aggregate, 3-2, by winning, 2-0.

Houston has scored two or more goals 10 times this season, and has beaten FCD in three of their four meetings (3-0, 2-1, 1-0). But its scoring has tailed off the past month; in the last four games, including the 1-0 playoff loss in Dallas last week, it has scored just two goals.

This barren spell is reminiscent of its start to the season, a drought of just one goal in the first four games. Ching hasn't scored since his goal beat Dallas, 1-0, Aug. 19 and Ngwenya has been blanked since netting in a 1-1 tie against Kansas City Sept. 1.

Ching and Ngwenya tied for the team lead in goals with seven; Nate Jaqua, who also saw time in midfield, placed next with six. Whoever plays up front will have to be in sync if Houston is to conjure up enough chances to win.

"He runs the channels pretty well," says Ching of Ngwenya, who was replaced by Jaqua in the 70th minute. "He holds the ball up well and he's a good complement to myself."

Two goals might not be enough for Houston to win in regulation. Carlos Ruiz is, well, Carlos Ruiz, Kenny Cooper is rounding back into shape, and speedsters Dominic Oduro and Abe Thompson can get in behind any MLS back line.

Ricchetti is questionable with a groin injury, so the busy, efficient Dax McCarty might get the start instead.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
O'Reilly carries Breakers to win in road-trip finale    
[NWSL: Week 16] Heather O'Reilly scored two goals and assisted on the other two scored by ...
Angulo punishes RSL Reserves with hat trick    
[USL PRO] Jose Angulo, last year's MVP, scored a hat trick to lead the Pittsburgh Riverhounds ...
U.S. venues picked for Women's World Cup qualifying    
[DATEBOOK] The 2014 Concacaf Women's Championship, which will serve as qualifying for the 2015 Women's World ...
Time was right for DeMerit to retire    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Jay DeMerit, who was a bartender and bouncer when he got out of college ...
On tour in America    
[SOCIAL MEDIA ROUNDUP] Preseason isn't all work for the big clubs of Europe, no matter how ...
World Cup coaches, who's staying, who's leaving    
[MAKING A LIST] Jorge Pinto became the 12th coach to definitively leave the team he coached ...
A fantastic goalkeeper blunder    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Polish goalkeeper Richard Zajac will be haunted by this one for ...
Real Madrid and Atletico invade Bay Area    
[INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES] What are the chances of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid playing in the San ...
What They're Saying: La Liga's Javier Tebas    
"Regardless of the crisis, Spain has been able to shine through football. As a brand, Spain ...
Garrido signs with Houston, Bengtson loaned out    
[MLS TRANSACTIONS] Houston Dynamo acquired 23-year-old midfielder Luis Garrido, who started two games for Honduras at ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives