By: Rees Linn

FC Dallas managed a 1-1 draw in their opening match of the 2011 MLS Season at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night against the Chicago Fire.  The two clubs exchanged goals from Deigo Chaves and Milton Rodriguez to complete the night’s scoring before halftime.

FC Dallas mascot - Tex Hooper
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The North Texas club showed flashes of their Western Conference championship form throughout the night, but lacked the composure in the attacking third to break down the visitors.  Solid play from Logan Pause and Michael Videira in the center of midfield helped strengthen Chicago’s new-look defense.  The pair did well to limit opportunities for David Ferreira, and the 2010 MVP was forced into receiving passes too deep in the midfield to interchange effectively with Milton Rodriguez or Marvin Chavez.

Dallas had an edge in the possession and looked like the more attacking minded side until some poor marking and weak clearance ended in a Michael Videira tap-in in the 17th minute to put Chicago in the lead.  Despite the early setback, Dallas worked a sweeping attacking move down the left wing to equalize only two minutes later.  Zach Loyd, starting at left back for the suspended Jair Benitez, slipped past two defenders before sliding the ball into the box where Milton Rodriguez coolly finished past Sean Johnson.

Hyndman explained after the match, “(the goal) reminded me of some of the things we’ve done in the past – the things that we did last year.”

Dallas continued to create chances through the rest of the first half, but Chicago had the brighter start after the break.  In an early opportunity, Dallas again failed to clear properly from a set piece – the ball fell to Michael Chaves who nearly scored his second of the night, but his shot came off of the crossbar.

Despite Chicago’s quick start, Dallas continued to hold the attacking edge until Brek Shea was sent off in the 55th minute.  Shea was stripped of the ball by Gaston Puerari, and was judged to have fouled the attacker while attempting to recover.  Having been the last defender, Shea was shown the red card.  It wasn’t the first time that Shea had been exposed at the back, and the converted left mid demonstrated that he has a lot to learn in spite of his excellent performance against Chivas USA a week ago.

In the final 35 minutes Chicago was able to create several good opportunities on the counter but was never able to use their man advantage to dominate the match.  Still, Kevin Hartman was forced into several key saves to preserve the draw.

Hyndman was philosophical about the result, “Like all first games of the year, this is a starting point, and you want to end at a different point. So we need to continue to work and to get better, and to get ourselves sharper.”

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