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Drilling down on: at FC Dallas 1, New England 0

Apr 5, 2012, 11:24 PM EDT

FC Dallas v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

Man of the Match: FC Dallas center back Ugo Ihemelu surely felt like he’s been there before. Early in the 2010 season, the FC Dallas center back scored on a header, off a free kick and near the end as FC Dallas won for the first time in Houston. Thursday, after a night of steady defending, where goalkeeper Kevin Hartman never really needed to stretch himself, Ihemelu came through once again, on a header off a free kick near the end. He got behind his marker, Shalrie Joseph, to drop in the game-winner deep into stoppage time.

Packaged for take-away:

  • With both sides missing fullbacks who can add speed or something else to the attack (Kevin Alston for New England and Jair Benitez for Dallas), and without their creators (Benny Feilhaber for New England and David Ferreira for Dallas) a creative spark was noticeably absent from this one.
  • Thursday’s match was a bad one for Alston to miss; he would have helped the Revs with Fabian Castillo’s speed, which was crushing the visitor’s back line early.
  • Revs manager Jay Heaps made a slight tactical adjustment, asking central midfielders Clyde Simms and Shalrie Joseph to adjust their positioning, getting closer to the passing lanes faster along Castillo’s side, and things looked more under control from there.
  • Castillo has as much speed with the ball as anyone this side of Dominic Oduro. But like Oduro, he sometimes hopes to do too much. If Castillo ever learns a better deployment of all that speed, he’ll really be a handful.
  • An FC Dallas without Daniel Hernandez to pass through the midfield, without Ferreira to operate the attack and without Benitez to work the left flank … that’s an FC Dallas team that can only hope for a goal and then lean on a dependable defense. As it is, Blas Perez is the closest thing Dallas has to a “playmaker.”
  • New England’s outside midfielders, Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen, never got anything close to the room they had Saturday against Los Angeles.
  • New England goalkeeper Matt Reis had a Man of the Match-kind of evening, too. Revolution center backs A.J. Soares and Stephen McCarthy had good nights, although Dallas’ Perez did win a bunch of balls in the air. In the end, a couple of big saves by Reis – one in the first half on a low shot by Brek Shea, and another big effort late in the second half on a deflected ball that seemed to be twisting into the upper corner – was nearly enough to help New England close out what was nearly a highly successful five-days on the road.
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