Yes, it is a broken record, but it's still a fact. Without an historic number of injuries, FC Dallas would have likely cruised into the playoffs with Vancouver's collapse. When writing an article for MLS that should show up tomorrow, I started railing off the injuries...Ugo Ihemelu...George John...Brek Shea...Jackson...Blas Perez...Ricardo Villar...and even Bobby Warshaw who was majorly contributing before breaking his foot.
That got me to thinking, which one hurt FC Dallas above all others?
You can certainly make a case for Ugo Ihemelu. I think the biggest case was made in Sunday night's game. Hernan Pertuz, when thinking that he is your team's #4 central defender in a perfect world, is a very serviceable player and a versatile defender that I think certainly has a place on this team.
But Ugo Ihemelu probably doesn't make the fouls on Fredy Montero that Pertuz did both on the penalty and on the second goal. After the match, Schellas Hyndman had this to say about the mental lapse leading to the second goal:
We’ve got to get better at that. I think the way you get better at that is just getting more and more experience. Another way you get better at it is to have depth on your team where you can take a player out and have him think about it for awhile.
Am I reading too much into things to think that reading between the lines, Schellas is saying that 29-year-old Ihemelu doesn't make the play that 23-year-old Pertuz did?
Still, through the majority of the year, FCD was able to at least adequately patch over his absence.
The impact of Brek Shea's injuries is probably the toughest to really quantify because we don't know just how much he was affected this year simply by injury. There were clearly mental issues messing with him, but I think in the coming weeks we may find out that Shea was bothered much more by injury than he lead on.
The problem is that playing at 70% makes it impossible to know just what kind of affect it had on the offense from game to game. There is no doubt about it, however, that a team built to counter attack is one that is perfect for Brek Shea when he's at 100% and on the contrary highlights his problems when things aren't going well.
FC Dallas certainly missed Blas Perez big time this season. Look no further than the three straight draws in July where Blas' absence almost directly led to the draws where FCD just couldn't find a goal.
However, I looked at the numbers and while it's a fairly small sample size, the fact is that Dallas was able to at least hold serve when Perez missed some games...The Dallas offense averaged 1.16 goals per game in Blas' 18 starts while averaging 1.35 GPG in the 15 games he didn't start for a 1.26 GPG...it's a little bit skewed by him not starting in the 5-0 rout of Portland, but still the numbers don't lie(completely)
Also, Dallas gained 18 points in Perez's 18 starts while interestingly getting 20 points in the 15 games he didn't play.
George John was certainly missed this season, mainly because of how dominant FC Dallas was defensively in games where he and Matt Hedges started together.....but still I think George John's absence was compounded by the fact that Ugo Ihemelu was missing as well because those two just work so well together.
Which brings me to my point. This won't be breaking any news, but FC Dallas was a completely different team with David Ferreira in the middle this year. A few games can manipulate numbers fairly significantly, but with Ferreira the numbers tell the whole story.
In the 19 games that Ferreira didn't start this year, FC Dallas scored just 17 goals for an average of .89 GPG, a lower average than every team except for Chivas USA. In Ferreira's 15 starts, Dallas almost doubles that number with 23 goals...good for 1.53 GPG, a total near the top of the league.
And the difference is the most stark when you simply look at the points....an average of 1.53 PPG in Ferreira's starts, a total that, while not elite by any stretch, is nearly double the .78 PPG without Ferreira.
Is the real story that a team already light on depth suffered a perfect storm of injuries this year? Probably, but when I look towards 2013, I can pretty much guarantee you that if Ferreira survives the whole season(a big if when you look at how many times he's been fouled since returning in 2012) then FC Dallas will make the playoffs with flying colors.
And yes, I do think there are some major problems with the way FCD is built...we will get to all of it over the next couple months.