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FC Dallas capitalizes on man advantage by inserting Ryan Hollingshead in win vs. Philadelphia Union

The FC Dallas attack is tough enough to contain when 11 players are on the field.

But playing an entire half down a man after midfielder Zach Pfeffer earned a red card for putting an elbow into the face of Mauro Diaz proved too much for the Philadelphia Union to overcome, as FC Dallas grabbed a 2-0 win at PPL Park and improved to 3-0 on the season on Saturday.

“When a team goes down, you’re always looking to capitalize on that situation,” forward Tesho Akindele told MLSsoccer.com after the game.

Oscar Pareja opened the match with the same 4-2-3-1 lineup that was responsible for three goals against Kansas City last week, but it failed to generate many opportunities in the first half and Dallas was outplayed by the Union.

At halftime though, after Pfeffer's sending off, Pareja decided to bring Ryan Hollingshead off the bench in place of Michel – an adjustment that proved to the decision of the game. 

“[We wanted] to avoid a possible red card, because he was in the yellow,” Pareja said of Michel, knowing another yellow in an already physical game would take away Dallas’ advantage. “I knew he could handle it. He is a mature player.”

But the decision to substitute for Michel did more than prevent a potential ejection of Dallas' own. It also gave the Hoops a more aggressive attack with the more mobile Hollingshead, who now has a goal and assist in the last two games coming off the bench.

“We wanted to have another forward. I wanted to put somebody else up front and have another body in the box when we were working the flanks with Fabian [Castillo] or Tesho or Ryan,” Pareja said. “And I thought it worked very well.”

It only took four minutes into the second half for Dallas to reap the benefits of Pareja’s wizardry, when Akindele was able to block a clearance attempt by Fabinho and race down the flank to get in position to fire a low shot past Rais Mbolhi. Just 10 minutes later, Hollingshead brought his coach’s vision to life, finding space at the top of box and drilling one in nearly the same spot that Akindele placed his.

The amount of striking depth that Dallas has is showing to be more and more dangerous for opposing teams, especially when players such as Hollingshead continue to make the most of their opportunities.

“That’s the mentality that we want to develop on the team,” Pareja said. “That everybody feels involved and everybody feels important whether they are starting or coming from the bench.”

And whether it is 11 on 10 or if the teams have even numbers, the ruthless mentality that the Dallas offense is showing makes the club feel that it can play with anyone.

“We’re finding goals everywhere on offense," said Akindele. "So we’re pretty confident."