FC Dallas enjoying the luxury of personnel options

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Among the many rewards of starting the way FC Dallas has in 2013: the luxury of options.

Just 11 rounds into a 34-game season, Schellas Hyndman’s team has about half the points needed for a playoff spot. Clearly, the Red Stripes have bigger ambition – but that’s another story.

The point is, by gobbling up the points so early, as FC Dallas has, they have a cushion. And that creates the luxury of looking at matches without the burden of panic or desperation. More to the point here, it means having some additional options when it comes to personnel.

Last night in North Texas, Hyndman knew he could probably have pressed playmaker David Ferreira into action. At the very least, he could have put the team’s top creator, who is recovering from a hamstring strain, on the bench.

But he knew the temptation to go to Ferreira in certain situations – like the one that developed last night, for instance, as Dallas pressed United for the go-ahead goal that finally did come – might be too much to overcome. A long, hot Texas summer is ahead. And there are Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches to consider; that’s a tournament named after a man for which Hyndman has tremendous regard, the patriarch of the family that still owns the club, so FC Dallas likes to take it seriously.

Prudence (and that swell cushion) dictated that Ferreira not dress for Saturday’s match against down-and-out United.

This was more of prevention. … Instead of putting him out there, and possible hurting him,  because this is a game that I probably would have went to him, I think we we’re protecting him. And, again, it goes back to the depth of the team.

Central midfielder Andrew Jacobson and center back George John, who has been nothing short of outstanding all year, were in similar situations.

If things looked a little differently, Hyndman may have pressed any or all of them into service. As it is, the gap between first-place Dallas and second-place Real Salt Lake currently stands at seven points. A “comfortable” seven points, in fact.

So young London Woodbery was at center back in place of John, sitting alongside Matt Hedges, who remains quite young.

And then backup Je-Vaughn Watson could be entrusted to Jacobson’s spot, alongside Brazilian holding mid Michel.

Again, these choices might look a lot different if FC Dallas had not built such a cushion. But it’s nice to have the luxury of options.

(MORE: Why a win against the league’s worst team was a “good” win)

Brazil’s Gremio wins Recopa Sudamericana in penalty shootout

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PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) Brazil’s Gremio has won the Recopa Sudamericana, beating Argentina’s Independiente 5-4 in a penalty shootout Wednesday night.

The two-legged final ended 1-1 on aggregate, with no goals scored after 120 minutes in the second.

The winners of last year’s Copa Libertadores overcame the holders of Copa Sudamericana after goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe stopped the last penalty of the series, taken by Independiente’s striker Martin Benitez.

The Recopa is played between the champions of South America’s two most important tournaments.

Independiente played most of the match down to 10 players after defender Fernando Amorebieta was sent off after 38 minutes.

The Brazilians made most of the pressure until the end of extra time, but failed to score.

Gremio also won the Recopa in 1996.

CCL wrap: FC Dallas disappoints; Club America struts (video)

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The CONCACAF Champions League returned Tuesday with Toronto FC’s 2-0 quarterfinal first leg win in Colorado, and a trio of ties began Wednesday across Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Tauro 1-0 FC Dallas

Veteran striker Edwin Aguilar scored a big goal, and goalkeeper Oscar McFarlane did plenty of good things as the Panamanian side struck a wild first blow against its MLS visitors.

Here’s a random fact underscoring how remarkable of a failure this would be for FC Dallas: Only six of Tauro’s roster members have their own Wikipedia page.

Deportivo Saprissa 1-5 Club America

Cecilio Dominguez and Mateus Uribe each bagged a brace, and Renato Ibarra also scored as the tournament’s top team sauntered into and out of Costa Rica on Wednesday. Club America has been to seven CCL finals, and one every single one.

Motagua vs. Club Tijuana — 10 a.m. ET

Honduran hosts hope to have a leg to stand on — pun intended — once the tie heads to Mexico.

West Ham to friendly neighbors Dag & Red: “Will help save our club”

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English Conference Premier side Dagenham and Redbridge has seen better days, and is getting a hand from a Premier League pal.

[ WATCH: Fred’s vicious free kick ]

West Ham United will pay a visit to Dag & Red as part of the latter’s #SaveTheDaggers campaign, and the March 21 date will cost fans between $7 and $21 to see a top flight side at 6,000-seat Victoria Road.

Dagenham and Redbridge chairman Paul Gwinn said, “It really will help save our club.”

“So please come on down to the Chigwell Construction Stadium for an additional night of football. Bring a friend, or two, or more and we can use the gate takings to help get us back on track,” reads a press release.

Dag & Red was founded in 1992 and climbed as high as League One in 2011, and plays just 2.5 miles from West Ham United’s training ground. Newcastle’s Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle are among Dag & Red alums in the Premier League.

It’s a terrific gesture from West Ham, and is even more impressive in the United States where the growing club game is increasingly cutthroat (especially between non-synced leagues).

Angry Di Francesco extremely quotable after Roma loss

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AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco absolutely roasted his charges after i Lupi tossed aside a Cenzig Under-inspired lead to fall 2-1 at Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday.

Di Francesco had praise for Edin Dzeko, who assisted Under’s goal, as well as goalkeeper Alisson, but was mostly enraged by his side.

[ MORE: Recap + Fred’s vicious free kick ]

Rather than construct a narrative, we’re going to point out our five favorite selections from Di Francesco’s post-match talk.

4) “The difference was that in the first half we tried to hurt them while in the second we were looking to hold on – to what? I don’t know.”

— “To what? I don’t know” is hilarious. Di Francesco’s side has posted some serious wins this season, including killing off Chelsea 3-0 at home and coming back from 2-0 to draw the Blues at Stamford Bridge. He doesn’t preach sitting back.

3) “There were far too many schoolboy errors – even by players with a wealth of international experience.”

— Schoolboy errors!

2) “I saw two completely different teams out there today. There were lots of players I should have taken off after we conceded the first goal.”

— Again, one mistake by a number of players on Facundo Ferreyra is enough for Di Francesco. He’s not just happy to be here.

1) “I can’t imagine we’d get arrogant just because we’re winning an important game. It’s not as if Roma are used to reaching the final every year.”

— When you’re willing to essentially rip an entire club’s history — Roma’s been to just two UCL quarterfinals since losing the final to Liverpool in 1984 — you’re putting your footprints in new cement.