MLS Tactics Tuesday: FC Dallas Without David Ferreira

Posted In Features - By Kevin McCauley On Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 With 4 Comments

Much has been made of Brian Mullan’s harsh tackle on Steve Zakuani, but there was a much more impacting injury that occurred on the same weekend. FC Dallas’s attacking midfielder/second striker David Ferreira, last year’s MVP and the key cog in the team’s 4-2-3-1 system, has gone down with a broken ankle, and will be out for an extended period of time. On many teams, the manager would throw the closest thing for a like for like replacement into that spot and try to make do, which is what the Sounders will do with Steve Zakuani. In many cases, the team will change to rigid setup that fits players they have available to them. In the case of FC Dallas and Schellas Hyndman, it’s a crap shoot.

Big D Soccer, a great FC Dallas blog featuring Daniel Robertson (who also writes for Top Drawer Soccer) and Drew Epperley (who also writes for WVHooligan and, took a look at what Dallas might do in the absence of Ferreira. Drew made the case for a switch to a 4-4-2 setup, while Daniel made the case for keeping the system the same, and slotting Eric Avila into Ferreira’s spot. Currently, I am strongly leaning towards the latter.

However, this is not because I am anti-4-4-2. There is a time and a place for everything, and Dallas very well might have the personnel for this setup. However, their club captain and one of their best players in their 4-2-3-1 setup, Daniel Hernandez, would likely have to be dropped. He’s a great tackler and he has great positioning, but the 4-4-2 demands that your midfielders have certain skill sets. If FC Dallas had a fantastic all-around midfielder who could cover a lot of ground, tackle, and pass, Hernandez could play in that setup. However, Dallas do not have this player.

Unfortunately for them, this would be a really good time for them to have Dax McCarty, who was left unprotected in the expansion draft this winter. His skill set would actually allow them to play a 4-4-2 that included Hernandez. Right now, all of their midfielders are attackers who can’t pass or guys who cover a lot of ground, but are either below average as creators or as tacklers.

Assuming that Schellas Hyndman is not interested in dropping his club captain, a  4-4-2 has to be considered out of the question. That setup could work with Eric Alexander and Andrew Jacobsen in the midfield and Fabian Castillo as a creative, deep-lying, roaming second striker, but this seems like a highly unlikely team selection for Hyndman.

Of course, there is the possibility that the Brek Shea positional carousel continues as a result of Ferreira’s injury. Right now, Shea is certainly the best athlete out of FC Dallas’s attacking players, he’s certainly the most versatile player, and he’s arguably their most creative player. I’m not advocating for Brek Shea moving to Ferreira’s spot, but someone could very easily make a logical argument for it, and it would be very much in character for Hyndman to do such a thing.

For me, the best option is the one that Daniel proposed over at Big D Soccer, and that’s giving Eric Avila his shot. He hasn’t gotten too many opportunities to play in that spot because of how good Ferreira has been, but when he’s gotten a chance to play, he’s been excellent. He was very good at the end of this weekend’s game against the Whitecaps when he came on in relief of Ferreira, scoring an excellent and well deserved goal. At the very least, the 23 year old needs to get some time so Hyndman can bring up his trade value and move him late in the season for a player at a position of serious need, in the event that Ferreira gets healthy and he doesn’t believe that Avila has a long-term future with his team.

At the moment, Avila is the best option in Ferreira’s place. Now is not the time for FC Dallas to blow up their system, especially when a competent replacement for Ferreira is available and the rest of the team is not built to run a 4-4-2 by any stretch of the imagination.


About Kevin McCauley - Kevin McCauley is the Editor in Chief of The Allocation Order. He is also the world football editor at SBNation Soccer.

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  1. [...] Kevin McCauley: MLS Tactics: FC Dallas Without David Ferreira [...]

  2. [...] is a new Post at MLS Tactics Tuesday: FC Dallas Without David Ferreira – The …. FC Dallas’s attacking midfielder/second striker David Ferreira, last year’s MVP and [...]

  3. [...] Brad Evans that can contribute more on offense.  However, the loss of Ferreira creates plenty of formation problems for coach Schellas Hyndman.  Big D Soccer debates whether Hyndman should move from a 4-1-4-1 [...]

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