It's been a remarkable turn around year in Frisco. Through 18 games it's tough to find a time where FC Dallas was outplayed for a full 90 minutes with one of their two losses, at New York, coming in arguably their best performance of the first 10 games of the season.
To see just how much of a 180 this team has done, let's take a look at some numbers from the season...some of them are truly amazing when compared to previous years. We'll start off with the defense.
---Before getting started, let me mention how silly it is that it's impossible to find historical game by game results. It took about 15 minutes to find historical standings and I can't even find what happened in FC Dallas games LAST SEASON much less in 2005. I might expect that from the FC Dallas website, which has yet to add the FCD Junior signings to their online roster, but MLS needs to fix this.
---FC Dallas has given up 16 goals in their 18 games this season which is on pace to be the best goals against total in team history beating their 1.09 GAA in 1999. There's not another defensive performance even close to that 1999 season. FCD had their 16th goal scored against them in the 9th game last year and 11th game in 2008.
---It's been 14 MLS games since FC Dallas has allowed 2 goals. To put that into perspective, the next best is Seattle Sounders who haven't allowed a multi-goal game in their last 6. FCD gave up at least two goals in 15 games last year.
---Their 1-1 draw at Philly 10 games ago was the last time they've allowed a goal in the last 25 minutes of a game.
---Perhaps the most impressive stat is that FC Dallas has not lost by two goals in an MLS game this season....in fact they haven't trailed by two goals this season. Last year FC Dallas lost by at least two goals three times in their first six games, however it has been a full 28 games going back to last season since FCD lost by 2 goals. Colorado is the only other team that hasn't lost by two goals this season.
So now the question is why is the defense so drastically improved from a year ago?
---The simplest answer is to just look at the starting 4 for the home opener of last season. Blake Wagner---Steve Purdy---Drew Moor---Daniel Torres.....ummmmmm. Most of the blame for this falls to Schellas who was incredibly naive in his early player transactions and made some mistakes which he quickly learned from, but this team may have made the playoffs last year if they had been more prepared defensively at the beginning of the season.
---The total continuity of the back four. Last season, there was 5 different defensive combinations in the first 6 games, but since the 3-0 demolishing of soon-to-be Champions Real Salt Lake in Frisco last season, the game where this team figured everything out and hasn't looked back, it's basically been one combination. Jair on the left, Ugo Ihemelu and George John in the middle and Heath Pearce on the right with the addition of Zach Loyd who doesn't miss a beat. These four have proved to play off each other perfectly and have formed arguably the best defensive combination in the league. Keeping these four together and healthy is essential to success for this year and the future.
-Schellas Hyndman's high pressure system in the midfield takes a lot of the heat off the back four who can focus on simply stopping the forwards as Daniel Hernandez and Dax clog everything up in the middle of the park while Brek's offensive talent nearly neutralizes the right side of attack for the opposition. Simply put, it's proving to be extremely tough to find any space in the midfield for opposing playmakers to work their magic.
---As much of a Dario Sala fan as I am, Kevin Hartman has proved to be a perfect addition to the squad. His defensive organization abilities have been exactly what FC Dallas needed and he has returned to All-Star form.
Any other reasons for the drastic turnaround in the FC Dallas defense?
Stay tuned as we take a look at the midfield and offense in the coming days.