FC Dallas defeated Toronto 2-0 in front of an announced crowd of 15,000 on a muggy but mild Saturday night in Frisco, TX, thereby avenging a 4-0 loss to Toronto in their last meeting. Both Dallas goals came on penalty kicks after fouls on forwards Abe Thompson and Denilson, who both would otherwise have had one-on-one chances against the TFC keeper. The Brazilian newcomer converted the first kick for his first goal with Dallas, and Thompson returned the favor with the second goal.
All eyes of course were on Denilson at the start of the match; though he got significant time in their last match he was making his first start for Dallas. Playing in an attacking midfield position behind Thompson and fellow Brazilian Richardinho, he did not disappoint, showing excellent creativity in his passing as well as some dazzling ball-control ability.
Dallas played a very aggressive style in what appeared to be a 4-3-1-2 formation, though Alvarez at right-mid scarcely paid any attention to his defensive responsibilities. Dallas put consistent pressure on Toronto but will need more fine-tuning to adjust to injuries (starter Kenny Cooper is out with a broken leg), departures (offensive midfielder & prima donna Ramon Nunez was recently traded to Chivas), and two new players (the Brazilians). Carlos Ruiz, who had the night off, will likely be paired with Richardinho at forward, with Denilson in support. The offensive emphasis results in some exciting soccer and is perhaps the best way to compensate for a defense which was burned for 4 goals in FCD’s previous MLS game (vs DC United) and whose left side is a serious liability. It will need some attention for possible upgrades in the off-season.
On this night, Dallas’s best central defender, Clarence Goodson (having an all-star season), was out to recover from a concussion. Replacing him was Aaron Pitchkolan, who has played well of late but is vulnerable to speedy forwards. Alex Yi, the other starting center back on the season opener, is not yet fully recovered from a knee injury. In that spot was Adrian Serioux, a mid-season acquisition brought in with some fanfare to shore up the center of the defense and who has played, to the eyes of this observer anyway, like hell. Yes, that’s putting it harshly. Serioux may still be less than fully healthy (he had knee sugery before the season) and the dude gets absolutely amazing distance on his throw-ins. On the left side, hard-working but unfleet-of-foot David Wagenfuhr replaced the usual starter, Chris Gbandi, who was benched for his recent dreadful play, especially in the DC United game. On the right Dallas has a very solid player in Drew Moor, who is capable of making very fine crosses into the box when he comes forward on the attack.
Toronto had at least 3 good chances but did not show good finishing ability. Two of these opportunities resulted from hair-raising giveaways by Serioux & Wagenfuhr that set up quick counter-attacks, and a third came on a lofted through-ball to a forward who got behind Serioux for a 1-on-1 chance vs. Sala.