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Eastern Conference Championship

FC Dallas reshaping defense

Despite defeating the Chicago Fire 2-1 in the 2005 season opener, it is FC Dallas that is looking for solutions to solidify a new-look defense.

Other than starting goalkeeper Scott Garlick, the entire defense is revamped, starting with defensive leader and center back Greg Vanney.

"The most important thing is we picked up three points," said Vanney. "We have three guys in their first year (starting). It will take some games and we will gel together."

Timing is everything as the team only had one week with Vanney to prepare and work on strategies, whereas most teams had the luxury of the entire preseason.

The lone goal scored by Chicago came on a marking error. Marking seems to be one of the top priorities for the defensive leader.

"We will sit down with [assistant coach] Steve Morrow, watch game tape and narrow down opportunities given away," Vanney said.

The defense played well considering the circumstances of time played together and experience as a whole.

"(Left back) David (Wagenfuhr) did fine -- as a team we had problems," said Vanney. Fellow center back Clarence Goodson showed his prowess defensively, and Philip Salyer had a quiet but effective game as well.

In addition, the veteran defender acknowledged Garlick's performance: "Scott Garlick came up big."

Dallas will look to learn a lesson from this game and how to preserve a lead going forward. Experience will be the teacher of knowing when to preserve the lead and defend in depth and when to try and build on the score.

"We don't need to win 5-0 and not give up any chances to score," said Vanney. "It's not how many we score, but that we play smart."

As the back four becomes more accustomed to each other, so will the rest of the team. Not only will defensive positioning become better, Vanney said, but also the ability of FC Dallas to maintain possession of their own and deny the opposition any chance of creating opportunities.

"The team will learn where to put the ball for players," Vanney said.

Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its club.


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