Young Guns Stepping Up
Many times this season, we have seen this FC Dallas team decimated by injuries. George John, Mauro Diaz, Kellyn Acosta, Hendry Thomas, Andrew Jacobson, Andres Escobar, Adam Moffat, Walker Zimmerman, and Raul Fernandez (might be others I missed too) have all seen themselves sit out matches due to having lingering knocks or long-term impairments. These injuries have been tough to deal with. Any team that loses that many veteran bodies in the heart of the lineup for that long a period of time will struggle. The depth will be tested and the youth will be asked to deliver solid performances. So far this season, we have seen the younger players step up and succeed in delivering solid performances for FCD when called upon.
The team results have not always been there, but the individual performances have been a joy to behold from Vic Ulloa, Moises Hernandez, and Tesho Akindele. When asked to fill in for Mauro Diaz at the beginning of the year, Danny Garcia also had some good performances for this team. For discussion purposes, I am including Fabian Castillo in this group as well. He has really come on lately and could finally be finding his most-consistent stretch of play as an FC Dallas player. The depth of this team has been tested mightily, but the youth have been filling in admirably and holding the fort down until the cavalry arrives. That's splendid for (not only this season) the campaigns in the coming years and the development of these young men.
FC Dallas has allowed 28 goals in 17 matches so far this season. That statistic does not exactly scream brilliant defensive play, but we knew what we were getting when Oscar Pareja was signed on to be the coach of this team. Attacking play causes teams to focus more on going forward than the defensive side of the ball, but the mentality or tactics are not to be blamed for the struggles in the defensive third. Mistakes, giveaways, and lapses in judgment are the reason that FC Dallas has not been able to start games off strongly or finish them well. Individual battles have been lost and errors have been made by many players that have cost this team many points during the win-less streak from 4/26/14-6/7/14.
Shutouts have been as rare as a Blas Perez penalty conversion and the keepers have not been at fault for many (if any) of the goals this season. This team has had to deal with injuries often this year, but it is not an excuse to continue to let teams punish you for mistakes game in and game out. This needs to be rectified if FCD wants any shot at playoff success this season.
The Just NASTY
FC Dallas has EIGHT red cards so far this season in MLS play. That is a ridiculous amount of time in 17 matches to be playing down a man especially if you are chasing the game. The discipline issues are the nastiest predicaments this team MUST overcome in the second half of the season. While I agree a few of the red cards were very harsh, why give the referee the chance to make those calls in the first place. More often than not, the red cards changed the matches from FC Dallas leads in matches to dropping points at the final whistle (see the DC and Portland matches if you don't believe me). Red cards must be eliminated and Oscar Pareja needs to instill accountability in this team for the stretch run. Otherwise, he risks this team not making the playoffs for another year, unacceptable in a World Cup year with soccer fever at an all-time high in the metroplex.
Disciplined teams are the toughest to defeat and break down. The players need to put their egos aside and focus on the team. If they are incapable of doing so, they need to ride pine until a revelation occurs that proves they have changed their minds and are willing to fight for the shirt.
This teams needs to start playing well immediately after the break in order to make sure the demons of the win-less streak are surely put to bed once and for all. Will they be capable of doing so? I sure hope so.