Aside from the injuries (and Daniel covered which was the biggest earlier on here), there were other items that contributed to the long and frustrating season that FC Dallas had to deal with. Suspensions were one thing but in this day and age in Major League Soccer a slow start or a long dry spell between wins will kill your playoff chances in the end.
Both of those items happened this season for FC Dallas.
FC Dallas started off slower than we would have liked and by the middle of the season they were in the middle of a nasty 13-game dry spell that saw them go winless between a home game with Montreal on April 14 and a road date with Colorado on July 14.
The start to the season wasn't terrible but it also wasn't great. FC Dallas was front-loaded with games against weaker clubs from the Eastern Conference, many of which were at home. Dallas went 3-3-3 (12 points) in their first nine games. At that point in the season they were just a few points back of the fifth and final playoff spot and really it was anyone's guess who would reach the post season out of the West anyways.
But after the 2-1 home win over the Montreal Impact that saw Blas Perez and Brek Shea score late goals to lift FC Dallas to victory, the drought began to hit. Between the 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on April 25 and the 0-0 draw with San Jose on July 7, Dallas would go 0-7-6 in that span of games - one of the ugliest dry spells in league history.
Many of those games were frustrating as Dallas would lose late in games like a 3-2 loss at Real Salt Lake or the 2-1 loss to their Brimstone Cup rivals the Chicago Fire. A 2-1 loss at the Houston Dynamo in June also showed a Dallas squad playing without seven of it's normal starters.
By the time the first FIFA break hit in MLS, FC Dallas was just 3-8-4 (13 points) - a good six points back of the fifth and final playoff spot.
By the end of the summer drought FC Dallas was just 4-9-7 (19 points) - or good enough to just be three points back of the fifth and final playoff spot in the West.
We know how things have gone since that win at Colorado back in July. Dallas has been a much better team going 6-4-4 (22 points of their season total of 38 points).
Looking further at the records of all the MLS teams that reach the playoffs, only one was not doing well before June - theLA Galaxy. But they have a ton of talent and depth and really didn't deal with the many injuries all at once that FC Dallas had to this season.
So many things can be pointed at for the slow start and long dry spell. Injuries, suspension, poor form, young players having to play in games when they weren't ready to do so, players playing out of position, bad tactics, no depth, you name it.
Needless to say this isn't the MLS of old where you catch fire in the second half of the season and still reach the playoffs. Teams now have to start well as much as they have to finish well. Putting the two halves of the season up against one another and Dallas was simply not good enough in the front end of the season. In the end it proved to be too much to overcome as they just couldn't catch up to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the standings. The what ifs will rain down over the next few weeks but for me the slow start and dry spell were just too much to overcome this season.