Just one of many leads FCD was unable to hold - Steve Dipaola
Through 45 minutes, FCD was among the best in the league....then the second half happened
In professional sports, while the whole game matters(in soccer more than most sports), how you do in crunch time is generally how you're judged. In the NBA, it's fourth quarter scoring. Despite leading his team so well, how many times was Dirk Nowitzki criticized for fading in the fourth quarter?
Tony Romo could be 24-26 for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns, but if he throws a crucial pick at the end of the game to lose it, does anyone care about the rest? Josh Hamilton was getting booed at the end of the Rangers season despite having one of the best offensive years in recent MLB history...and why? Because he disappeared in the last month of the season.
So many times in soccer, the first half of games is simply a feeling out process. Teams are firing little salvos at each other and hoping things work out, but in the second half is when coaches and players really show what they're made of.
Unfortunately for FC Dallas, if judged by the second half, they've showed very little in 2012.
Much like the most recent games in Seattle and San Jose and Chivas USA and so on and so on, the first half was relatively successful. In fact, FC Dallas was the most unbeatable team the first 45 minutes of games this year! FCD has found themselves on the losing end going into the halftime locker room just three times in 2012, two less than any other team in MLS!
You look at San Jose, the runaway winners of the Supporters Shield, and their first 45 minutes were in no way better than the first 45 minutes for FC Dallas. In fact, the Earthquakes have trailed at halftime more than three times as much as FCD, ten times this year.
The problem is that Dallas was not only poor in the second half this year, they were awful. Their -10 goal difference is the third worst in MLS behind only Portland, Chivas USA and Toronto - company you don't want to find yourself associated with for any stat - and their 33 goals given up in the second half is tied with Montreal for the most in MLS this season.
The other remarkable stat related to second half failure for FC Dallas this season is how often they've been able to take the lead in matches and then how subpar they've been at keeping the lead. Only six teams have scored first in their matches this year more often than FCD who have taken the first lead 16 times this year in their 33 matches. Given the two scoreless draws, that means Dallas has taken the lead first more often than not, despite having won just 9 of 33 matches!
However, If you want to have relative success in MLS, all you need to do is be able to hold on to leads and Dallas hasn't done that well this year at all. FCD is 6-3-7 this year in the 16 games where they've scored first, earning just 25 of 48 available points. Contrast that to Seattle who, going into Sunday, had also scored first 16 times this season. They we're 13-0-3 in those games earning 42 of 48 points....that's a 17 point difference and Dallas was 15 points behind Seattle heading into Sunday's match.
FC Dallas and New England were the only two teams in MLS to fail to win MORE games than they won when taking the initial lead while the 23 dropped points after taking the lead were the second most to only Montreal.
As a contrast, in 2010, the team that went to MLS Cup was 11-2-6 when scoring first earning 39 out of a possible 57 points. It's not a fantastic percentage, but it's one that will get you into the playoffs which is where, as we saw, anything can happen.
We can talk about injuries and beating the teams they should beat and all sorts of reasons why Dallas realistically gained about 15-20 points less than they should have. However, the biggest reason is that Dallas was a terrible second half team and was simply not good enough at holding on to their leads.
So now, after seeing the data, the argument becomes why was FCD so poor in the second half this year. I'll have that article soon, but for now you can talk amongst yourselves on the second half problems.