The 2014 MLS season is over for FC Dallas, but some players are still playing in 2014 as we go through the final international window of the year.
Je-Vaughn and Reggae Boyz Advance
Je-Vaughn Watson and Jamaica had a busy week hosting the finals of the 2014 Carribean Cup.
After missing the first of three games, Je-Vaughn went 90 minutes in Jamaica's 2-0 win over Antigua & Barbuda on Friday night. The win set up a crucial match with Haiti on Sunday night in Montego Bay in which the winner would advance to the 2014 Carribean Cup Championship.
Je-Vaughn was once again in the starting lineup as Jamaica defeated Haiti 2-0 to set up a championship match against rivals Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.
Having finished in the top four, Jamaica has automatically qualified for next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and the winner of Tuesday's match will earn a spot in the 2016 Copa America Centenario to be held in the United States.
Acosta captains US U-20s in win vs Ireland
WATCH: US U20 1, IRE U20 0
As you can see from the highlights, Kellyn was very active in the match playing in central midfield and had two nice scoring chances.
The US U-20s will wrap up their week in Spain on Tuesday in a friendly against the Canadian U-20 national team.
CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifying starts in February for the US U-20's.
Raul Fernandez did not feature in goal in Peru's 2-1 loss to Paraguay, but he figures to play in Tuesday's return fixture between the two teams in Lima.
The FC Dallas U-18 and U-16 teams played their last competitive fixtures of 2014 before the Winter Showcase over the last couple weekends at the Toyota Soccer Center while the U-15s and U-13s continued their strong starts to the season, here's a recap of recent results:
November 15 vs Andromeda
Andromeda U-18: 0
FC Dallas U-18s bounced back from their loss to Dallas Texans with a big win over Andromeda on Saturday afternoon. Francisco Molina's team have five different goal scorers in the win with Santiago Agudelo, Weston McKinnie and Sadaq Mohamud scoring in the first half while Oscar Romero and Aaron Meyer scored in the second half.
FCD U-18 heads into the Winter Showcase at the end of November with a 6-2-0 record scoring 25 goals and allowing 12.
Andromeda U-16: 1
The FCD U-16s continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 3-1 win over Andromeda. Connor Presley scored just before halftime to equalize the match 1-1 at halftime. Wingers Devin Vega and Toshiki Yasuda found goals in the second half to move the FCD U-16s to 7-0-1 on the season.
Andromeda: U-15: 1
Javier Barajas & Paxton Pomykal scored for the FCD U-15s who are an incredible 6-0-0 with 30 goals scored and just 3 allowed this season. Prior to this match, Andromeda U-15s were 4-0-1 so this was certainly a solid win for the U-15s.
Andromeda U-14: 0
The FCD U-14s scored their biggest win of the season defeating Andromeda 7-0. Bryan Reynolds and Adriel Serrano scored twice while Eric Romero, Dylan Kline and Imanol Almaguer also found goals in the win.
Andromeda U-13: 0
The FCD U-13's scored a 1-0 win to move to 2-2-1 on the season.
November 9 vs Dallas Texans
Dallas Texans U-18: 3
The FCD U-18s suffered a tough defeat to Dallas Texans last week dropping a 3-2 result after leading 2-0 at halftime. Oscar Romero and Antonio Aguilar gave FCD a 2-0 halftime lead, but three goals in a 20-minute span in the second half earned Texans a huge win.
Dallas Texans U-16: 0
The FCD U-16s drew their first game of the season against Texans holding the majority of possession, but unable to find a breakthrough goal. This was their third shutout in a row.
Dallas Texans U-15: 1
Jommar Reyes, Simeon Salazar, Carlos Molina 2, Javier Barajas 3. Javier Barajas scored a hat trick in the win while Carlos Molina added two and Jommar Reyes and Simeon Salazar had the other strikes.
Dallas Texans U-14: 3
Jose Carlos Garcia scored in the U-14 defeat.
Dallas Texans U-13: 1
The FCD U-13's scored a 3-1 win to move to 1-2-1 on the season.
After exiting a playoff series they didn't lose a game in, perhaps FCD's luck is turning around.
Despite having some of the worst odds among any team, FC Dallas won the first overall pick in next week's Chivas USA dispersal draft meaning Oscar Pareja & FCD will have the first pick of Chivas USA players.
This article from MLS has all the details, but whoever FC Dallas picks(if they choose anyone), must be added at their full 2015 contract budget charge, and dispersal draft picks can not be traded, though FCD could trade whoever they pick at a later date.
The Chivas USA Dispersal Draft will be held via private conference call on Wednesday, November 19th and it's important to note that every Chivas USA player is available except for Eriq Zavaleta who was on loan from Seattle Sounders FC, and Erick Torres who, if he returns to MLS, will be allocated at a later date. There is also the interesting case of Eric Avila who has reportedly been sold to Santos Laguna of Liga MX.
Who should FC Dallas go after? There are certainly some interesting options and MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle has his thoughts on the matter here.
Who would you take from Chivas USA to add to the FCD roster?
We've had some time to process things and it's time to come to the sad realization that the 2014 season is over. It was an incredible season, but it has sadly come to an end.
Fear not, however! Planning and roster building for the 2015 season begins almost immediately. Here's a rundown of what to expect over the next six weeks as we head towards 2015:
NCAA College Scouting - Now through December 12
It's the business end of the college soccer season as conference tournaments take place across the country this weekend before the NCAA tournament. Not only will the FCD coaching staff be looking at players they could potentially select in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, but they'll also have an eye on potential future FC Dallas Homegrown signings like Boyd Okwuono at North Carolina and Mikey Ambrose at Maryland. Stay tuned as we'll have plenty of info coming up in the next couple days on how our academy alumni are doing as NCAA soccer hits tournament time.
Chivas USA Dispersal Draft - Wednesday, November 19
Sadly, Chivas USA is no more in MLS and while LAFC will be taking their place in a few years, the task to allocate Chivas USA's players will be settled next Wednesday with a dispersal draft. CLICK HERE to read the full information on the draft. We will know the order on Friday and there is certainly a chance that FCD could add a player through this mechanism. It is important to note that any player added must have his 2015 contract option exercised, so it is doubtful that too many players will be selected, but given the fact that Chivas USA had 11 players age 23 or younger on their roster, there is certainly a chance FCD adds one of Chivas USA's former players.
MLS Cup Final - Sunday, December 7
Yeah, yeah I know it's a little tougher to watch when FCD could easily be in it, but c'mon it's the league's championship game. Will Landon Donovan go out on top? Can New England, New York or Seattle achieve their first championship in league history?
Half-day Trade window - Monday, December 8
Immediately after the season ends, the wheeling and dealing begins. MLS is opening a half-day trade window on Monday, December 8 for teams to make moves before the Expansion Draft. You wouldn't expect much but could see trades made with NYCFC or Orlando City before the Expansion Draft.
MLS Expansion Draft - Wednesday, December 10
This is a big one. With New York City FC & Orlando City FC coming into the league in 2015, that means one of the dreaded expansion drafts. We will discuss the rules in much more detail as we get closer to the date, but teams are allowed to protect 11 players plus their Homegrowns and can lose as many as one player to each team.
That's the FC Dallas radar from now until the end of the year. There is also the MLS Draft Combine and MLS Superdraft on January 15 before preseason 2015 gets going in late January. It'll be here before you know it!
Here are the best photos from Monday's playoff finale against Seattle courtesy of USA Today Sports Images:
Here are your match highlights from tonight's heartbreaking goalless draw in Seattle that ends FCD's season:
Hear from Matt Hedges, Victor Ulloa & Oscar Pareja on Monday's decisive playoff game in Seattle:
Here are your Toyota Keys to the Match for Monday's HUGE #SEAvFCD second leg playoff game.
It's voting season across the country and across MLS as well! One of the big voting awards each year is the MLSsoccer.com Latino del Año and we need you to vote FC Dallas! Last year we had Raul Fernandez go all the way to the finals and we need to get Blas Perez, Fabian Castillo & Raul into the next round!
Here's the groups and polls. VOTE VOTE VOTE:
WATCH: Group A
WATCH: Group D
WATCH: Group H
Oscar Pareja is known as a manager for his tactical tweaks and there were a couple that caught my eye in the last week of playoff games that I wanted to bring up.
Tesho's two very different roles
Rookie of the year frontrunner Tesho Akindele's role with FC Dallas varied over the last two months of the season as the rookie, who had started 14 straight games, appeared in the starting XI just three times over the last eight games of the regular season.
However, the Colorado School of Mines product has started both of FCD's playoff games, though his roles were very different in the two matches.
Against Vancouver, Akindele was played on the right side of the 4-2-3-1 formation and was a relatively purely offensive player in the match. As you can see from the game's OPTA Chalkboard, Akindele's defensive efforts were mainly simple clearances from set pieces looking to get up the field as quickly as possible to add to the attack. He and Castillo switched sides to effective results during the match and Tesho had the fantastic effort to open the scoring just before halftime.
The OPTA Chalkboard showed 10 "defensive" actions for Akindele in Wednesday's match with six of those coming in his defensive third and four of those in the box, presumably off set pieces. His heat map to the left showed he roamed around the field for the most part looking to combine with Castillo, Diaz and Perez up front.
The relatively direct attack of Vancouver was, by and large, snuffed out by the excellent center back duo of Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges with outside backs Zach Loyd and Je-Vaughn Watson cleaning up anything from the wings.
FC Dallas didn't need a huge defensive effort from their wingers against a Vancouver team that does not really rely on their outside backs to provide offense.
Oscar asked for a much different role from him star rookie against the Seattle Sounders, a team with arguably the most offensive outside back in Major League Soccer.
We'll talk about its effectiveness in a moment, but first I want to simply look at the role Tesho played against Seattle. Oscar asked him to sacrifice his offensive opportunities on Sunday night to work in conjunction with Moises Hernandez in slowing down the Sounders' right side of Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, the guy who unleashed a rocket-shot goal in their previous meeting.
As you can see from his heat map to the left, Tesho's role was much more defined in Sunday's game asking him to play a high defensive pressure game against the Sounders' right side duo. His actions are, for the vast majority, in one 30% area on the left side of the midfield, also in the 4-2-3-1 though not as defined as the one with Mauro at the #10 role.
As mentioned earlier, Tesho had 10 "defensive" actions in Wednesday's match mainly in the defensive third of the field where defending is a necesssity. Against Seattle, Akindele had 13 "defensive" actions, but they were almost exclusively in that middle third left side of the pitch where you see the heat map defining.
Tesho was asked to combine with Moises Hernandez to shut down DeAndre Yedlin and Lamar Neagle, something Dallas did extremely effectively. Pareja praised Tesho's efforts after Sunday's match.
Now let's talk about just how well the Dallas defense did against Yedlin
Slowing down the best attacking outside back in MLS
DeAndre Yedlin's star has risen faster than perhaps any young player in MLS history. The 21-year-old earned a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur on the back of a great performance in the World Cup and while his defensive talents can certainly be scrutinzed, there is no doubt that he is absolutely dynamic going forward and when he plays well, really good things happen for Seattle.
As mentioned before, FCD dispatched a two-pronged defensive of the ultra-athletic Tesho Akindele with Moises Hernandez to stick with Yedlin all evening and it worked wonders.
First, let's look at the last time FCD played Seattle. Dallas played a straightforward 4-4-2 with two left backs, Jair Benitez and Hernandez, and it wasn't the most effective thing ever. As you can see from Yedlin's heat map and stats from that first game, he pretty much had his run of show in the first matchup back in September. 45 completed passes up and down the right side of the pitch, five crosses, etc...
Being the amazing coach that he is, Pareja knew they'd need better results against Yedlin in the second match, so he put in another thoroughbred that could contain Yedlin in Tesho Akindele. As we mentioned earlier, Akindele hung with Neagle and Yedlin every step of the way combining with the excellent Moises Hernandez to make the Sounders' left side ineffective and practically non-existent in the first leg.
As you can see, Yedlin's heat map from Sunday tells an extremely different story from the match back in September. Yedlin completed 80%(45/56) of his passes in September's game compared to just 46%(14/30) of his passes on Sunday. According to the OPTA Chalkboard, Yedlin had 18 attemped or completed passes in the Dallas half in September's match compared to just six on Sunday and Yedlin had just one attempted pass in the FCD final third in the entire match. The stats on Neagle are very similar and it says enough that he was subbed out in the 65th minute.
The numbers are even more impressive when you look at Yedlin's previous matches before Sunday's playoff game.
OPTA Chalkboards of Yedlin's last five matches vs LA, at LA, at COL, vs CHV, at FCD show that Sunday was by far the lowest completed passes he's had in quite some time, his lowest percentage of completed passes and by far his most conservative heat map of the previous month showing FCD did a fantastic job of both keeping him pinned in his own half and limiting his crosses.
The flip side to all of this is, of course, the fact that Seattle seemed pretty content to sit back for most of the game. Much more than they typically do on the road, a team that by far led MLS in road goals scored this season.
It'll be a huge task to do it again in Seattle, but Dallas certainly was able to do it in their own house.