May seems like a distant past at this point, almost years ago. June and now July are showing troubling signs that this FC Dallas team is in a funk. Or a slump. Or whatever.
Breaking down another loss is tough but breaking down one at home is even tougher. The apologies for the club are removed. Time to get real about what this club is bringing to the table now.
1. Complete games. It was a sign we should have paid more attention to early in the season. Some of you did and will likely toot your own horns for it (and I encourage you to). But early in the season this club would dominate a game for the first 70 minutes or so and then hold on for dear life in the final 20 minutes.
Now...now this club is dominating a game for maybe a half hour in the first half and then the wheels fall apart. Either they fail to score and they get frustrated. Or in the case of last night against Real Salt Lake, they give up an ugly counter attack goal in the late stage of the first half.
The second half was more of the same. Dallas pressured, got chances and then Salt Lake countered.
Dallas just isn't playing a complete game these days. Schellas Hyndman knows it, and so do the players. But getting back to a point where they can dominate for stretches without looking like they are going to crap their pants when the other team presses back, well, it may take some serious changes in Hyndman's part to get it going again.
2. Offensive slump. The first shot of the game by Fabian Castillo after he raced down the field, made a beautiful cut inside in the penalty box was a sign to me that this was going to be a long night for Dallas. When Castillo made the cut and took the shot, I thought "damn that is going in" only to quickly realize that Kenny Cooper was running right into it.
Poor Castillo, because that would have bee one for the highlight reel and he knew it too. You could hear it in his voice afterwards and you could see it on his face in the replay of it.
Poor Cooper too, the big guy just had one of those nights where everything he touched turned brown.
At one point I thought, "would this have been better with Blas Perez?". Maybe. We really don't know, though I can imagine Perez not getting in the way of Castillo's rocket.
The club is now at three games without a goal. That is an unfortunate streak.
3. RSL baited Dallas for a counter. Literally all night too. Just seconds before their first goal some folks in the press box mentioned to me that RSL looked like they were just waiting for the perfect counter attack chance and then BOOM. They got it.
For all the speed and ability on set pieces, Dallas continues to bait teams into counter attack chances. I don't know the exact numbers but it seems like teams are scoring more and more off counter attacks, and the run of play against Dallas than anything else this season. Not a good sign.
4. Time for a change. Hyndman said he knows changes have to come after this one. Maybe Michel in the defense, Jair Benitez on the bench, or Loyd on the bench to start out. No word yet on how fit newcomer Erick is but the sooner the better to see if he can correct the midfield shape with Andrew Jacobson. Jackson, Castillo and Je-Vaughn Watson on the wings haven't been working so maybe it is time to throw Ramon Nunez out there to start out.
But the changes on the field aren't the only thing. The mood surrounding this club just isn't what it once was this season. I know it is a long season and things can and will change quickly but the mood isn't nearly as light and happy as it once use to be. A couple months ago, even after a tough loss, this group was still together and enjoying one another. I'm not sure if the mood change is fully due to the play on the field or if this time of the year when the transfer window opens that players' moods just change.
5. RSL is a damn good team. I normally don't talk a ton about the other team but after this one I feel as though I have to. RSL was without four key starters, one back up defender that was suspended and then a slew of other defenders that were out hurt for this one. Not to mention they started a Homegrown central defender (Carlos Salcedo) next to Nat Borchers and then their second string keeper Josh Saunders went down with a knee injury and that forced Jason Kreis to sub on his third stringer Jeff Attinella.
Salt Lake is a team that is built to handle a long season. The depth that they have proved just that. Right now I'm not convinced that Dallas has the depth that we once thought that they did.