Where would FC Dallas be in the standings this year without the league-leading six red cards? My mind drifts back to Houston where Dallas had just tied the game 1-1, and looked poised to take the lead before Jair Benitez lost his mind. And who can forget the beautiful goal Dallas created through David Ferreira, Brek Shea & Scott Sealy in Portland to take the lead only to have Zach Loyd pick up a second yellow card just minutes later and have things fall apart.
FCD is 0-4-1 this year in games where they have been shown red and have suffered in multiple other games without suspended players as the red card not only affects the current game, but the following game as well. Is it 3 points lost? 5 points? Who knows, but it's crucial points that have been needlessly thrown away.
It seems almost fitting, then, that if you take away the Ferreira and Castillo heroics, probably the biggest reason for the recent surge has been the team keeping their discipline. The last three games are about as physical as it gets in this league with opponents combining for 12 yellow cards and one red card, but Dallas held their nerve. Even when their hotheads were targeted.
"I thought the game against Real Salt Lake that Espindola was trying to get Jair wound up," Schellas Hyndman said this afternoon. "You could see it."
The same thing happened in Colorado in a clash with Hunter Freeman and a similar instance with Jun Davidson in Vancouver. However, FCD stuck to the game plan and held their meddle.
"We can’t worry about the referee, but you have to be careful about picking up cards," Hyndman said. "Once you start to worry about the referee or the calls or the physical play, you no longer play free."
The similarities between the Portland and Vancouver away games were stark. FC Dallas had just taken the lead in the second half of a physical, hard fought game and if they kept all their men on the field, they probably were taking home three points. In Portland, that didn't happen and Dallas threw away two crucial points, but in Vancouver the opposite was true and a second goal was scored soon after.
With discipline and red cards at the forefront of the MLS Twitter chatter today, FCD fans should be proud of their squad for keeping their nerve in some tough environments last week. If Dallas has any dreams of playoff success, the same will have to be true for the rest of the season.