It will be really hard for some folks to see any good in the performances by FC Dallas yesterday in their 1-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. It wasn't a matter of getting completely outplayed or anything to that degree, it was just an ugly game that ended very poorly for a team that was desperate for three points.
More lineup changes. Yet again Schellas Hyndman went with a new lineup to start the game. For the most part I wasn't too upset over that though. By and large that 11 on the field yesterday is likely the best 11 in Hyndman's mind. Fabian Castillo continued to prove he is stepping his game up with another solid outing. If Castillo can only get his finishing down, he would be a monster player for this club.
The defense was solid once again with Kellyn Acosta proving his worth despite Zach Loyd returning to the bench after missing a month and a half with an ACL injury. I'll get into Matt Hedges and George John in a bit though, both were brilliant yesterday.
But then there was the likes of Jackson out on the field. For all the good he had done earlier in the year, the last few games he has taken a few steps backwards. His pace is still dangerous to deal with and he is always due for a random shot on goal but yesterday was one of those outings that just left you watching him, and wondering out loud "what the hell?" (or some other choice of wording). It is hard to put a point on where things are going wrong with him on the field but you could tell when he was subbed out that he almost wanted nothing to do with Hyndman and the rest of the coaching staff.
Then here is Andrew Jacobson, who I felt was way out of position for most of the game. Anyone get the sense that he was playing more on the wings than in the middle. Maybe it was someone from New York drawing him out wide like that or something to that effect.
Lastly, what was up with Blas Perez? He had a couple chances to make an impact but didn't do it. I'll give credit to New York's defense for not allowing him to get the ball in space as much as he would have liked. The few times that he did get the ball in space and with time, he linked up very well with Castillo. I really want to see more of that in the final five weeks.
Defensively strong. I'll always say, when healthy this is one of the best defensive groups in all of MLS. All four in the back had really strong outings yesterday. Sure Jair Benitez and Acosta had some turnovers, that is bound to happen from your fullbacks. But both guys held their ground against some decent skill players from the Red Bulls.
But really the effort from John, Hedges and Raul Fernandez was as strong as we've seen it this season. Both kept Thierry Henry at bay, annoying him with their physical play. Both managed to frustrate Tim Cahill or Fabian Espindola when they came around the penalty box.
We talked a little last week about Castillo making the MLS 24 Under 24 list but more and more Hedges proved how he was possibly the biggest snub of that entire list. We'll be doing our own list of FCD players this week and you will likely see him near the top.
Lackluster effort from Ferreira. I'm not sure if it was a combination of Dax McCarty staying on him like a hawk or Cahill pulling him away from the ball at times but David Ferreira looked out of his element yesterday afternoon at Red Bull Arena.
The effort from Ferreira wasn't the best that we've seen over the last few weeks and yet again we saw more of him standing around or walking around the field. From a leader or in his case the captain of the team, that kind of crap has to stop. FCD is too young of a team at its core to have their main leader walking around on the field like that. Especially given the situation where Dallas needed the points.
Own-goal issues. Hey, this stuff happens folks. Erick was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He likely assumed Hedges was Henry or some other Red Bull player in the box. That is where communication between players is key. Erick has only been here for a couple months now so you'd hope his communication with the back four is better than that. But hey, heat of the moment, I get it. I've scored an own-goal or two in my time. Like I said, it just happens.
What is left from here? With five games left, Dallas pretty much needs all 15 points to feel good about their playoff chances. That would get them to 55 points but seeing this club reel off five straight wins at this point seems highly unlikely.
The best is to take care of business at home with the three that are left in Frisco. Those are all must-win, cannot lose or draw them. Then on the road, picking up a win in Salt Lake or San Jose won't be easy but it has been done before. It very well might come down to that final weekend of the season against San Jose. But even that feels like we are getting way ahead of ourselves here even thinking that.