The somewhat disputed Kübler-Ross model for dealing with grief posits that there are five stages one passes through when coping with a loss:
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Those stages don't only apply to cataclysmic life altering events, though that's where they're most relevant. It has been said they apply to any event that you dread. In this case, they apply to the end of our playoff hopes. I have certainly been guilty of these, so don't feel as if you're along in the pouring rain, crying while listening to Adele sing about another lost season (I'm pretty sure that's what her songs are about, I think.).
"Well, I can see that we're flailing pretty badly, but these injuries man! And those international absences? They hurt bro. So it's not a surprise we're doing badly. Things will get better. The summers are always rough for FCD. This team will turn it around for sure, just remember their first few months!"
"JESUS EFFING CHRIST SCHELLAS! Why is Watson still in there?! Are you seriously running out Fabian as a lone striker? Why is Raul at midfield? AAAGH! Hey! David! Get off the ground! Fight man, FIGHT! Stop dropping at the slightlest contact! YOU! JACOBSON! Learn to pass! "
"It isn't over guys. There's still a shot. What FCD needs to do here is to bench David, get Luccin healthy, get Diaz 100% fit in two weeks, hope every other team screws up, and also they have to not be FC Dallas. It can work. We have to try it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
"What's the point of watching these games? The playoffs are technically a possibility, but so is Jay becoming US President. We have a game against Columbus? Jeez. Hopefully they forget how to play this weekend. Oh, me? No bro. I'm not going to watch. I'm going to the Londoner to destroy my liver with as much alcohol as possible. If I don't have cirrhosis by the time I walk out, I will have failed.
If I don't come back by tomorrow, send a booze trolley with a rope and a St. Bernard harnessed to it. I should be able to ride back."
"Well, next season should be better. I mean, Hedges, Zimmerman and George John, combined with a fully fit and acclimatized Erick and Mauro Diaz and Kellyn Acosta? Hell yes please. I guess I can watch these other MLS games. March isn't that far away. It'll be fun to hang out with the crowd while it lasts."
A Fruitless Endeavor
That was a wretched game yesterday. Any sense of cohesion that the team had begun to build up over the past few games evaporated. It was gone. It almost makes you wonder as if we didn't imagine the team that we saw a few weeks ago.
The thing is, we didn't imagine the team from a few weeks ago. While no one would have called FCD the best team EVER (that honorable designation changes season by season according to MLSsoccer.com), they honestly began to look better. They looked like they were capable of putting a run together, and certainly looked motivated.
So which group of players are the impostors? The ones who beat Vancouver, or the ones who meandered around listlessly against New York?
We can debate here about what needs to change, and part of it starts with personnel. But that's not the entirety of the issue. It can't all be blamed on our players or their talent. I can't see how a defense that starts Raul Fernandez, Jair Benitez, Kellyn Acosta, George John and Matt Hedges should be anything less than a top four defensive unit. But no matter how good they are, they can't hold the fort forever. The midfield eventually needs to try and limit the amount of action that they see, and that pretty much hasn't happened. They were under a relentless assault against New York and the dam was bound to break. There was no avoiding it.
Have you considered what the score could have been like with lesser defenders? It would have looked like Sherman's March to the Sea. The only reason Dallas didn't lose by more is because their defenders are MLS-certified badasses. I'm very happy we don't have to deal with a humilitating scoreline this morning.
The season is effectively over. I don't see how this Dallas team wins four or five out of six. The rest of the west would have to display historic levels of ineptitude in order for FCD to have a realistic shot at the top five. If Dallas makes the playoffs, it will be a happy surprise and we will all cheer out lungs out as they play. But it doesn't seem likely.
Schellas has a lot to answer for. Five years is plenty of time. Enough time to say with certainty that 2010 is the outlier.
I've moved onto acceptance though. I'm thinking about next season. In the meantime, it will be fun to watch the kids develop and to speculate where this team goes next season. Hopefully higher than 7th in the table.