2011 has been a rollercoaster, there's no doubt about it. From the lows of being 1-3-1 headed to Vancouver where you lose your MVP and offensive catalyst, to then winning 14 of the next 19 games in all competitions prompting fans to dream of multiple trophies in a season.
The lowest low of 2011, however, has come at the worst possible time. The last month has been an unmitigated disaster as a dip in form from the team's most important players coupled with injuries, suspensions and off-field distractions have translated to an 0-6-1 record with just four goals scored and 5 shutouts including the current scoreless run in MLS, just 4 minutes short of an all-time franchise record.
Perhaps the worst part of it all is that you can't simply place the blame on one or two sub-par players. The offense is being held scoreless at a record pace while the defense hasn't pitched a shutout in 8 games, the longest such streak since the beginning of 2009.
Players and coaches have stressed the fact that the team needs to stay united and focused but it seems even Schellas Hyndman, the zen master, has been cracking recently with first half and halftime substitutions in the last two MLS games, something that you hadn't seen from him since early 2010. There is also the fact that much like in 2009, Schellas has encountered problems that he hasn't likely faced before coming from the college game.
The gaffer has a permanent spot in Frisco as far as I care, but he has made some mistakes this season. While in 2009, it was man management of players that gave Schellas problems, in 2011 it's been his first time dealing with cross country travel, international callups and multiple competitions that has proved near-fatal. He rebounded from his issues in 2009 to get things spot on in 2010, but currently holes in his squad rotation and roster management tactics are being exposed. In the college game, these are issues you're almost never dealing with so it's understandable that the first time dealing with those problems in the professional game will have some bumps in the road.
Is it too late to salvage the season and make a run at MLS Cup 2011? The good news is that things are not past FC Dallas yet. The Houston and Colorado games, while 1-0 losses, have seen the return of the first choice FCD lineup, minus David Ferreira, of course. Provided Brek Shea and Marvin Chavez don't pick up injuries on national team duty this week, Dallas is basically looking at having everyone healthy heading into the most important games of the season.
Schellas Hyndman has given the squad four full days off at the end of this week to go home, go fishing, play video games, or whatever they desire in order to get their minds right before a 2 week, 4 game stretch that will decide whether Dallas will be playing the CONCACAF Champions League next spring and if they have any hope of bringing a first trophy in 15 years to Dallas. There's no more time for excuses of fatigue, injury, fixture congestion or off-field distractions. The final stretch is coming and FC Dallas has 9 days to figure things out.