FRISCO, Texas -- When Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman put Jeff Cunningham in for Eric Avila to start the second half of Sunday’s match against Philadelphia, he did so because he wanted the full three points against the expansion Union.
Cunningham’s entrance meant FCD shifted from their usual 4-1-4-1 formation to a 4-4-2, where he and Milton Rodriguez were paired together up top. The tactical switch paid dividends when Cunningham scored his first goal since May in the 75th minute and added a second six minutes later to help his side prevail, 3-1.
When Rodríguez was signed, fans wondered how long it would be before he joined Cunningham in the attack. And, given Sunday’s positive result, they must now be pondering how long it will be before Hyndman switches back to his preferred 4-4-2 setup.
According to the FCD gaffer, discussion of any such switch is premature.
“It’s not just changing the system of play, it’s changing the personnel,” Hyndman said after practice on Thursday. “Now you add another player. You’ve got Jeff on the field and another player’s off.”
He also offered another reason why he won’t switch from the 4-1-4-1, a system that has FCD currently in third place in the Western Conference.
“The other thing you have to realize is when you change a system of play, as good as you think it is, are you doing it because of desperation? You can live with desperation,” Hyndman admitted. “We went into a 4-4-2 [against Philadelphia] because of desperation. We wanted three points.
“They were down a man, so it was a tactical decision. As soon as we took the lead, we went back into a 4-1-4-1 because I didn’t want to get caught on a counterattack,” added Hyndman. “What we want to do is continue to do what we do well but always have that ability to flip into something else.”
Benítez gets first assist of 2010
For much of the year, FCD have gotten quality service from both of their starting outside backs. Right back Heath Pearce has five assists, just one shy of tying David Ferreira for the team lead, and left back Jair Benítez has delivered more than his share of quality crosses to his teammates.
On Sunday, one of those crosses finally landed Benítez on the score sheet. The defender laid a ball off to Brek Shea, who crossed one into the Union area that Cunningham headed home for the eventual game-winner in the 75th minute. It was Benítez’s first assist of 2010 and second of his career.
His other helper came on September 30, 2009, when he assisted on Cunningham’s game winner in a 1-0 victory over New England in FCD’s first game at the Cotton Bowl since 2005.
Call him "Ruso"
Shea has done a lot of things this year for FCD, and the 20-year-old midfielder has also earned a nickname from one of his teammates. David Ferreira calls him “Ruso,” Spanish for “The Russian.”
It was originally thought Ferreira called Shea “Rooster,” but Shea confirmed his Colombian teammate indeed calls him Ruso.
“It’s the blonde hair, I guess,” Shea said. “It’s stuck. All the foreigners call me Ruso and some of the other people too. [Ferreira] started it last year, when he first came [to FCD].”