I don't want to overreact. This is a bad run of games that looks eerily familiar to last year, but, knee jerk reactions are only good to make me frustrated and depressed. It's going to be okay. Deep breaths...
I mean, things have looked worse before right? Remember last July, where we didn't even score a goal for a month, and were barely able to string two passes together? That was terrible! This is nothing like that...unless it is; in which case, let me drown these tears in a pint of IPA.
In my day job, I try, with an increasing amount of futility, to get teenagers to understand the importance of history and how it can inform us about our future. Looking back at WWI, we can understand the reasons why WWII happened, which might give us insight into any potential future wars. We can look at a situation that is currently happening, and due to our knowledge of history, make hypotheses on the future. We can also tell where the turning points were in history. We understand that the Battle of Stalingrad is the turning point of WWII due to historical hindsight and the events that followed that bloody battle. The same can be done for every soccer season. Sometimes, the turning point can be an injury to a key player, other times, it can be a shrewd acquisition to address a need in the middle of the season. Each time, it is difficult to see the turning point at first, but with hindsight it becomes clear.
Unfortunately, during the season it is much more difficult to see these turning points. We are in the thick of it and cannot gain perspective. Instead of being the bird soaring above the stadium, able to see the forest instead of the trees, I'm the sweat rolling down Oscar Pareja's face as he regrets wearing a sweater in June, close to the action but with a small purview.
However, that goes against my better nature, so I must see this as a turning point. I think that we are currently at a crossroads. Four losses in a row after a 4-1-1 start is a little more than a slip, but potentially not as much as a slide. However, it could turn into a descent down Mt. Everest, followed by a tumble into a bottomless crevasse if the losing streak continues. Or, we could pick ourselves up, dust off, and start climbing the table again. I believe that this will be a defining moment in the 2014 season, so let's hypothesize about how the rest of the season will potentially go.
The team doesn't respond well to the most recent losses and can't overcome the mounting injury list leading to another long summer. Diaz's injury is worse than feared, and in an attempt to come back too soon, the injury worsens, lasting the rest of the season. Teams figure out how to stop Danny Garcia, and the team struggles offensively to create anything from the run of play, relying solely upon set pieces to score goals. Another key player gets hurt in defense, while George John comes back a little slower than when he left and very rusty. Andres Escobar goes the way of Denilson and doesn't do more than disappoint for the rest of the season, only to never be seen again this side of Prime Meridian. By the end of the season, team morale has dropped precipitously low, and players are openly arguing/fighting with each other on the field. The team ends the season 8th in the West, another year out of playoff contention.
Middle of the Road
The Los Toros season Yoyos between extremely impressive performances full of vigor and sharp passing, and dour 3-0 losses. Constantly hovering just out of playoff contention, they keep holding out hope that if a few key pieces of the puzzle can fall into place, the season can be a success. Many of our injured players, like George John, Escobar and Diaz come back into the team but are inconsistent and can only give glimpses of why fans have such high hopes for this team. Fernando Clavijo fails to add any new players during the summer transfer window and our young players fade badly during the latter half of the season. While there are many positives that can be taken away from the season, like the emergence of Kellyn Acosta as a first-choice right back, and the strength of depth in midfield, they still face a worrying lack of goals from the run of play and are prone to lapses of concentration at inopportune times. FC Dallas end the season in 6th place, four points out of playoff contention.
As Harvey Dent said in The Dark Knight, "The night is darkest just before the dawn." So too is the FC Dallas season. After this most recent four game losing streak, the team comes together to become one of the best teams in MLS. Defying the odds, Fabian Castillo finds his scoring boots, racking up over a dozen goals. All the while, the defense battens down the hatches with inspired performances from George John and Matt Hedges (who also wins MLS Defender of the Year). The team gels well. Mauro Diaz comes back from his injury quicker than expected and is able to lead the attack for the remainder of the year. The young guys do continue to get minutes though as we also make a long run in the US Open Cup on the backs of Danny Garcia, Tesho Akindele and Walker Zimmerman. The team makes it into the playoffs as the second place team in the West, but loses to an inspired Real Salt Lake side at the peak of their powers. While that is a disappointment, things only look like they will get better in the future as our players get a little wiser and more mature during the off-season.
*While this might not seem like a "Glorious Success" to you, I am deathly afraid of jinxing our beloved team, so I will not predict us to win the MLS Cup...even if that is what I hope and pray will happen.
Obviously, these are just three scenarios that could, but probably won't, happen this year. I do believe though, that while we can't take too much stock from the last few games as they are a small sample of our full season, they could be an important turning point in this season.
Will the team respond to our latest bout of mediocrity, or will they fall back into the despairing depths of the MLS Cellar?
History is often defined by the moments where a person, army or team defies expectations, and wins when everything points to their failure. These are the moments that are remembered. This week's game against Chivas could be one of those moments. Let's hope the team realizes it.