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.
As you can see, we have a new look to the blog section of the FC Dallas website that we're launching in conjunction with #DigitalTuesday called Red Alert.
Anyone who knew me before I joined FC Dallas, knows that I got my start in the writing world by starting "Big D Soccer" a blog dedicated to FCD and ever since I became a full time contributor to the website I've been wanting to have a dedicated blog on FCDallas.com where the voice can be a little more casual. A place for the hardcore fan.
As happens in just about every line of work, it took a little while to get everything together, but today myself and FCDallas.com Managing Editor Scott Brown are extremely excited to launch Red Alert.
So how is this going to be different than what we have now? Expect a lot more updates from us, but in smaller bits. We're going to have links, analysis, pictures, polls, lots of social interaction and since it's called the Red Alert, you'll never miss a piece of FC Dallas content as I'll post links to every piece of FCDallas.com content on the Red Alert. Think of this as your FCD news stream keeping you updated on everything happening within the club.
I'm excited to see what this will turn into so thanks for reading and be sure to bookmark the Red Alert!
SEGMENT 1: The last Soccer Today of 2013 starts with Stein and Steve reflecting on all the big stories from the footy year that was to cap an eventful 12 months in American soccer especially.
SEGMENT 2: The audience gets a chance to join in as the boys -- as promised -- scroll through the boldest footy predictions for 2014 tweeted in by listeners.
SEGMENT 3: With technical difficulties disrupting plans to catch up with U.S. Soccer men's player of the year Jozy Altidore, Stein and Steve carry on as best they can with a chat about Jozy and his AZ Alkmaar heir Aron Johansson.
SEGMENT 4: ESPN FC's Craig Burley, former Chelsea and Scotland midfielder, dials in at halftime of the Chelsea-Liverpool match at Stamford Bridge to help us assess the Premiership exactly halfway through the 38-game season.
We haven't crowned a 2013 champion yet, but for FC Dallas fans, today is the day that focus turns to next season as we unveil the full 2014 schedule. Here are a few highlights:
Spring into soccer
You're going to have a bunch of opportunities to see FCD at home early in the year. Five of the first seven games in 2014 are at home. In addition, the first two games away from Toyota Stadium are road-trippable affairs at Sporting Kansas City and Houston, so for die-hard FC Dallas fans, catching the first seven games of the year is a realistic proposition.
Saturday nights in Frisco
Whatever plans you have for Saturday nights from March through October, you might want to adjust them. 12 of the 17 home games in 2014 are Saturday night affairs including five of the first seven games. Also returning in 2014 are the popular 8:00PM kickoffs during the summer.
Friday night's alright for soccer
One interesting feature of the 2014 schedule is the appearance of two Friday night kickoffs. FCD has only played two Friday games in the history of Toyota Stadium with one of those coming on the traditional Fourth of July game. One of the two Friday night games this year will be the July 4 game against the Philadelphia Union while on Friday, August 22, Dallas will host Real Salt Lake.
Only twice this year will FCD have the much-maligned three match weeks and both of them fall in an incredibly busy month of May. Dallas will play seven games in all through the month of May with grueling three-match weeks on May 4-10 and May 17-24.
Western Conference showdown
In an effort to enhance the run in to the playoffs, MLS has backloaded the schedules with intra-conference matchups. 13 of the final 14 matches of the season will pit FCD against Western Conference foes including two matches against both Los Angeles and Vancouver in the final two months of the season.
World Cup break
As we did in 2010, Major League Soccer will be shutting down for two weeks during the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stage. FC Dallas will not take the field between Wednesday, June 11's match at Portland and Saturday, June 28's match in Columbus. In addition, FCD will not hit the Toyota Stadium field in MLS action for almost a month between June 7 and July 4, though a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game or two could hit Frisco during that month.
So who's ready to kick off the season?