Lessons from FC Dallas’ fast 2013 start

1 Comment

Are we seeing what FC Dallas could have been in 2012?

Dallas of last year looks a lot like Colorado of this year – too many of the important pieces are on the injury shelf to make any real assessments of what the talent the coaching could do under better circumstances.

This is more or less the same team; manager Schellas Hyndman and the organization’s somewhat curious “competition committee” didn’t overhaul last year’s group despite a failure to make the playoffs. (That remains something still statistically harder to do than not to do; that is, 10 of 19 teams qualify for the post-season.)

Dallas’ lastest win, 2-0 at home Saturday over Vancouver, has Dallas running away with the Western Conference leadership. It’s a long season, clearly, but the eight-point margin after just eight weeks is impressive. (The MLS standings are here.)

So did Hyndman and his crew from North Texas nail the formula this year? The team is wearing its new 4-2-3-1 so well, with plenty of cover behind creator David Ferreira.

Or did they have it right a year ago, only to get undone by a litany of injuries to its most important parts. The struggles with health and fitness stripped playmakers Ferreira and Ricardo Villar, striker Blas Perez, winger Brek Shea and center backs George John and Ugo Ihemelu. That set of six important men combined to miss an average of 18 starts.

John says the chemistry is better in 2013, and others around the FCD locker room have agreed. (By the way, the team still has room to grow; communication with goalkeeper Raul Fernandez still needs to improve as he learns more English and defenders work to gain a better hold on Spanish.)

Whatever the reason for big stuff in 2013, Hyndman just passed an important milepost.

Hyndman, closing in on his fifth anniversary in charge around FC Dallas Stadium, has accumulated 219 points was head coach. The weekend win over Vancouver pushed Hyndman past Dave Dir, the club’s original coach, in terms of points earned.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
Leave a comment

West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

Leave a comment

In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.