Looking over the past couple of months for FC Dallas, there are many excuses or things that you could throw out as to why the team is in a slump. The summer months, the form, the injuries, the schedule, all of the above.
But maybe one thing has been more to blame than the other. Or many it is a combination of things. Either way, let's break down each time here try and find the roots of the current 0-2-4 streak.
In Major League Soccer, like most leagues, form plays a huge factor in the regular season. Either there is a long period of good form like what we saw early in the season or a period of bad form. Currently Dallas is obviously on a bad form or we wouldn't be talking about it like this today.
One big factor in their form as of late is the lack of holding a lead, or even having a lead in a game period. Since May 8th, Dallas has lead in only two games - wins over San Jose and D.C. United. For a two and a half month period that is not a lot of time spent in the league compared to games between March through early May.
Jay touched on it earlier about how it could be certain players like Jackson or even Fabian Castillo that are slumping as well. Mo mentioned in his latest FCD stock report that maybe it could be someone like Kenny Cooper.
Fact of the matter is, once a few parts begin to slump, the entire team tends to take the same shape.
Without a question the last two months the schedule just got plain harder for FC Dallas. More road games, more two games in one week, more three games in eight days thanks to the US Open Cup run and just more games against quality competition.
Looking at the schedule, since May, Dallas has gone on the road to Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They've also played home games against Sporting KC and in the US Open Cup against Portland and Houston. Competition has just been stronger for Dallas as those are all potential playoff teams here, I know Seattle is currently outside of the playoff zone in the current standings but given the games in hand that they have over everyone, they'll get there.
Since May, Dallas hasn't got a "quality win". To find the last "quality win" you really have to stretch yourself back to April when the Hoops beat Vancouver 2-0 at home. The last two wins were San Jose and D.C at home. Neither of those clubs are exactly lighting the league in fire either.
Dallas has some quality wins this season, there is no question about that but seeing the amount of draws double in the last month or so is also a troubling thing. On one hand it means that team isn't losing but on the other it shows that they aren't doing enough to win either.
This could be the biggest part of it all. Since May, Dallas has played six games without George John starting in the center of the defense. Throw that in with the fact that both Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman have also been injured at times this season have put a strain on the defense. Steve touched on this last night with his excellent piece on the club's form.
But back to John for a moment. Dallas is 7-2-4 this season with him on the pitch and just 1-2-4 without him. As much as we have spent time on how important guys like David Ferreira and Blas Perez are to this club, one could easily argue that John is just as important or maybe now a little bit more. He makes the defense complete and whole when he is healthy. And when the defense is healthy, this team is good.
The injuries aren't nearly as bad as they were in 2012 but they certainly are a factor here this season. Either it be Ferreira, John and Andrew Jacobson all going down at the same time back at the beginning of May or it is John, Zimmerman and Eric Hassli going down in late June.
Injuries are just a part of the game.
So what say you on all of this? Is it the schedule? Bad form? Players not collectively playing well? Injuries? Or a sum of a few things?