Matt Hedges is having his best season yet in 2014, earning a new contract extension and drawing calls for USMNT inclusion. He had another fantastic game on Saturday against TFC turning into an offensive juggernaut with a goal and an assist in the 2-1 victory.
For his efforts, he's earned a spot in the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week for Week 7. Hedges completed 42 of 48 passes on Saturday, had four interceptions and five recoveries according to the OPTA Chalkboard. Hedges has started 62 of the last 64 FCD games dating back to mid-2012 with eight goals scored in that time. He already has two goals scored in the first seven games of 2014 and needs just one more to tie his single-season high.
SEGMENT 1: Stein and Steve preview Championship Sunday in the Dallas Cup and also discuss Atlanta's introduction as the 22nd and newest city in Major League Soccer.
SEGMENT 2: After some thoughts from Michael Bradley following Toronto FC's loss at FC Dallas on Saturday night, our focus shifts to Landon Donovan and his ongoing search for the goal that will make him Major League Soccer's all-time leading scorer.
SEGMENT 3: New York Times contributor Brian Sciaretta, who follows the United States' U-20s as closely as anyone we know, returns to the show for a deep Dallas Cup discussion.
SEGMENT 4: The first of our four-part series examining the roster choices Jurgen Klinsmann will have to make before June 2 launches with a look at the U.S. manager's goalkeeping options.
SEGMENT 1: The United States' wild 2-2 draw with Mexico -- and Clint Dempsey's hat trick for Seattle in an even wilder 4-4 draw in Portland in the season's first Cascadia Derby -- dominate the early discussion.
SEGMENT 2: Fox Sports host extraordinaire Rob Stone returns to the show to talk Champions League and U.S. national team matters with the guys.
SEGMENT 3: ESPN's Eric Wynalda, fresh off his stint in Phoenix calling the USA-Mexico game alongside Ian Darke and Alejandro Moreno, joins the boys to give his verdict on Julian Green, Jurgen Klinsmann's bigger concern -- think defense as opposed to the forward line -- and everything else topical from the week's big friendly match.
SEGMENT 4: FC Dallas is unbeaten after five games for the first time in franchise history. So Steve breaks it all down for Stein from his vantage point as the team's new radio voice.
SEGMENT 1: Clint Dempsey’s two-game suspension – and Jurgen Klinsmann’s angry response to the penalty Clint received from Major League Soccer – dominates the early discussion.
SEGMENT 2: ESPN FC host Dan Thomas, who joined the network after a stint hosting Real Madrid TV, drops in to help the guys get ready for the latest El Clasico in a wide-ranging preview of a must-win game for Barcelona in Madrid.
SEGMENT 3: Former Chelsea and Scotland midfielder Craig Burley, one of Thomas’ frequent foils on the ESPN FC set, returns to the show to chat about Wayne Rooney’s wonder goal against West Ham and what Chelsea’s 6-nil demolition of Arsenal means for the rest of the season.
SEGMENT 4: Steve’s visit with longtime U.S. national team stalwart Carlos Bocanegra and a fond farewell to retiring U.S. international Steve Cherundolo cap the morning.
We talked about it all week leading up to the match. While the offensive electricity of guys like Mauro Diaz and Fabian Castillo make the headlines, FCD was going to have problems against Chivas USA if they couldn't slow down one of the hottest players in the league, Mauro Rosales.
On Saturday night, FC Dallas was able to shut down Rosales and it's perhaps the least talked about but most important aspect of the 3-1 win that sees FCD go top of the Western Conference.
Before we look at Saturday's match, let's take a quick look back to see just how good Rosales was through his first two games.
In the opening match of the season against Chicago, Rosales was by far the best player on the field and had two assists in the match, but even more than that, the Argentine absolutely peppered the Chicago box throughout the match with cross after cross as evidenced by his OPTA passing chart from the game.
As you can see, 29 successful passes, 26 unsuccessful passes, 7 successful crosses, 14 unsuccessful crosses. That means Rosales sent in TWENTY ONE CROSSES in that game. They didn't all work, but that's pretty scary. Everything is into the box whether it worked or not which is not what you want if you're an opposing defense. In total, Rosales had 141 actions in that match, by far the most of any player on the field.
Now let's take a look at his game against Vancouver where Rosales had the lone assist of the match.
Same song, different verse. Despite being down to 10 men for most of the match, Rosales completed 52 passes, the most of anyone on Chivas USA. While he didn't have quite as high a number of crosses, it's undeniable to see his impact on the match given the stats and passing grid above. Rosales had 151 actions in the match, by far the most of anyone on the pitch and one of the highest numbers you'll see in an MLS game this season.
Now for the good stuff, let's see how Dallas handled Rosales on Saturday night.
Those dots are fewer and farther between aren't they? FCD limited Rosales to 26 completed passes but just as important he only had 15 unsuccessful passes combining for 41 total passes attempted compared to 53 against Chicago and 69 against Vancouver. Rosales had 95 total OPTA actions against FCD which, while it was still the most on Chivas USA, was far, far fewer than he's had in his previous two games this season. Long story short, the numbers show that Rosales had a 30-40% lower impact on Saturday's game.
Also, it's subtile but if you look at the heat maps in each of the three games, you can see how Mauro's actions were a good 10-15 yards closer to the midfield line than against Chicago or Vancouver. The plays he was making were farther from the goal, vastly limiting his impact on the match.
Finally, another key aspect to limiting Rosales was the set piece numbers. Against Chicago, Rosales and Chivas USA had 10 corner kicks, scoring the game-winning goal from a Rosales corner kick late in the match. It was a similar story in their draw against Vancouver with six corners to the Whitecaps' zero. On Saturday, FCD limited Chivas USA to only three corner kicks and commited just five fouls in their own half of the field for the whole match and did not foul Chivas USA once in their attacking third until the 61st minute of the match.
If you want to stop Chivas USA's offense, you limit Mauro Rosales' touches in the attacking third and don't give him an opportunity to beat you on set pieces. FC Dallas did just that on Saturday night and earned an impressive three points.
We're excited to show you a new feature coming to FCDallas.com & Toyota Stadium pre-game each week, our Keys to the Match driven by Toyota.
Each week, Scott Brown and I will break down the biggest keys to each match and we started this week with Montreal. We talk about the impact(no pun intended) of Di Vaio's absence, the importance of defensive cohesion and jumping on Montreal early.
A new video element you'll see on FCDallas.com and our YouTube page this year will be quick hit video bites previewing the upcoming match with FCD players.
Our first quick hits segement comes from new team captain Andrew Jacobson looking ahead to tomorrow's big match vs Montreal.
You know the season is here when Drew Epperley's "Know Your Enemy" pieces are back on Friday before matchdays. Today, Drew takes a look at the Montreal Impact who have a new coach in Frank Klopas and a new, but familiar name in Heath Pearce.
ESPNFC's Taylor Twellman & Alexi Lalas, AKA Big Head Red Head, are doing a series of MLS team previews which I highly recommend. Today they're breaking down FC Dallas. You've got to love Alexi's prediction of "I predict FC Dallas will win a playoff game before the Dallas Cowboys."
Thank you for joining us for #DigitalTuesday! Leave your question now and join us at 3PM as FC Dallas Head Coach Oscar Pareja joins us on FCDallas.com.