My previous post had some ugly numbers. The defense has been statistically very poor while the offense is as anemic as any we've seen around here through 15 games in a season. However, there is a glimmer of hope within all those dark clouds and that is the fact that FCD has had a longer winless streak than this one and that team made the playoffs. Sports Club Stats lists the chances of FC Dallas making the playoffs at 2.1%, but that is a little absurd to me and computers don't take into account all the intangible factors that have contributed to the early-season struggles. So what needs to happen for FCD to turn things around, get this team playing well and most-importantly firing on all cylinders when the playoffs come around? We'll take a look at a bunch of different factors from the physical to the mental and everything in between. First off, we'll discuss some of the mental factors to getting things right.
Forget About It
I talked to a very wise man last week who told me If I was Schellas Hyndman, the first thing I'd do when the players got back from the weekend is hold a team meeting and rip out the month of May from every calendar in the building. I couldn't agree with him more.
The injuries can't be changed, the red cards and suspensions can't be taken back, the Open Cup is gone and the 20 second half goals certainly stay on the record. You may be able to find some tactical problems on the tape that you hope to fix in practice, but so many of these problems were things you can't do a whole lot about which is why it's better to just strike the past month from the record. You have to have the mentality that the 9-game winless streak was last season and has no bearing on what happens in Houston and beyond.
The best way to put the last month of the season out of your head and declare to the rest of the league that the first half of the season doesn't mean anything is by getting major points out of your next three games. How did FCD stay in contention after the record winless run in 2005? They won their next two games and three of the next five.
At Houston, vs Chivas USA, vs Toronto FC...the next three games and an opportunity to get the team and the fans believing that the playoffs are still a possibility. What better statement to make to your fans that this thing isn't over than stepping into BBVA Compass Stadium and dealing Houston their first ever loss in their new digs then returning home with three night home games to get right...There's 19 games left, but a bunch of them will be pretty meaningless if Dallas doesn't go for 6-9 points in the next three and there will be no more important games than these three coming up in a month's time.
What you said
I reached out to my Twitter followers to see what their one biggest key was to turning the ship around for the rest of the season and I'm integrating your answers into each part of the piece because I think there were some fantastic answers.
@Bigdsoccer More focus and accountability. Focus especially in the back.— Crustacean Guru (@ArchLobster) June 5, 2012
@Bigdsoccer getting/staying healthy, Brek's head on straight, ldrshp on the field, getting $$$ worth out of fc, rv, and jacksn, emo intel!!— Michael Gluckman (@mgluckman) June 5, 2012
Accountability and leadership on the field. They're touchy issues, but they're two things that have been lacking in the last 6 weeks or so and really since the beginning of the season. It's easy to throw the blame around on usual scapegoats when things are going wrong, but outside of maybe Blas Perez and Matt Hedges, every single player on the field has played below expectations whether it's Fabian Castillo, Jackson, Jacobson, or Zach Loyd. The players in the locker room must hold each other accountable and at the end of the day, the buck falls to the captain Ugo Ihemelu to perhaps step out of his comfort zone and demand more out of his soldiers. Each player on the team must battle for one another.
@Bigdsoccer stay positive. we have talent, and we've been close. the bad luck (bad calls, injuries, heart break losses) will turn around.— Sean Stone (@stoney_fds) June 5, 2012
Coming tomorrow is part 2 of the discussion which will deal more with the tactical side of things and how to get the best XI players back on the pitch and playing in a cohesive manner.