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
Agudelo trial at Wolves ends    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Juan Agudelo's search for a club continues as English League Championship club Wolves passed ...
MLS clubs in position to outdo Mexican rivals    
[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] The group stage of the Concacaf Champions League concludes with Week 6 with ...
What They're Saying: India Premier League    
"Heaven has gained a defensive midfielder; apart from the hard tackles and the breaking up of ...
Bielsa sits on cup of coffee    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Not everything is going right for Marseille's coach Marcelo Bielsa, whose ...
U.S. under-14 girls national team roster    
[CARSON CAMP] Head coach April Kater has called up 35 players (with one more to be ...
What They Saying: Emilie Jacquot    
"It is unanimously positive. The FIFA scandal had an excellent impact on our brand awareness." -- ...
On-fire Lee Nguyen hits golazo against Dynamo    
[VIDEO PICK: MLS Goals of the Week] Lee Nguyen scored both goals in the New England ...
Soccer America Men's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Sunday] No. 1 Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead at San Diego State after ...
'Caps qualify for first time, three U.S. spots taken    
[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Vancouver qualified for the Concacaf Champions League for the first time when Saturday's ...
Soccer America Women's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Sunday] A goal in each half from Michaela Dooley and Stuart Pope gave Kentucky a ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives