(Editor's note: As we begin this off season, we plan on giving you the good and the bad about the 2013 season. Up first is the bad...and some times very bad.)
In no particular order, here are my top four reasons of what went wrong for the Hoops in the 2013 MLS season:
1. The Captain
Lack of leadership killed this team. When any organization is failing, the heads on top are the ones that begin to roll. Why? Because these are the people who are in charge. The captain is the CEO on the field. The captain holds the team together. Without the captain, the team is not a team anymore.
This showed massively over the course of the season. David Ferreira was the captain of this team during the meltdown. He should have led by example during FC Dallas's win-less streak. Instead, during the 12 game win-less streak, Ferreira had a grand total of two assists.
This could be attributed to a lack of finishing, but the Hoops simply did not get the production out of their talisman that they needed in order to succeed. If Ferreira had played better during the abysmal streak, FC Dallas would have snapped it earlier. However, it just seemed that "El Torito" gave up. If you were an employee of a CEO who gave up on projects, would you care? I certainly wouldn't. FC Dallas saw their "leader" walking around carelessly and showing no passion during the rut and had nobody to play for. Sure, another leader should have stepped up, but I believe that the captain had as big a hand in this team's failure to win as the other players.
2. Lack Of Finishing
A franchise record scoring streak contributed to this team's failures. How can you win if you don't score? This one has to do with static lineups, lack of confidence, and just flat-out horrible finishing. FC Dallas did not score ONE goal from 7/4-8/1, spanning a total of five full games. Two of those matches ended in 0-0 draws (Chivas and Montreal). A goal could have gone a long way in collecting a few points here and there, keeping the team relevant until the end of the season, and giving the players confidence in other future matches.
Let's be honest, nobody saw this one coming. When FC Dallas brought in Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper, coupled with Blas Perez, Ferreira, and our terrible two on the wings (Fabian Castillo and Jackson), this team looked unstoppable on offense. They mustered up 46 goals, with 11 coming from Super Raton.
Castillo (2176 minutes) had as many goals on the season (2) as Walker Zimmerman, the rookie center back who played a grand total of 411 minutes.
Jackson had as many goals on the season (3) as Mauro Diaz. The minutes comparison is just not fair. Mauro played 423 minutes as opposed to Jackson's 2375.
Hassli managed one assist on the season.
Morale of the story, the pieces that were supposed to make this attack one of the most dangerous attacking cores in the league failed to produce. Again, do we blame the coach for not utilizing his resources up to full potential? You can if you want to. I refuse to place the full blame on Schellas. Some players simply did not fight for the shirt.
3. Reliance On Heroics
Here is something that plagues the entire Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. From the Cowboys to the Mavericks, our sports teams love being heroes and FC Dallas is no different than the aforementioned organizations. As we all know, it is never a good thing to be grouped in the same category as the Dallas Cowboys.
How many games, out of 34, did FC Dallas rely on coming back after going down first? A rough estimate shows that only about 10 of the games this season fell outside that criteria. If you want to be a winner in this league, you need to learn how to strike first and close out games. Eventually, the magic will run out and that is exactly what happened to FC Dallas this season.
Magic moments against Houston, LA, Chivas, and the Union earlier in the season could not be replicated later in the season when the Hoops needed them most against New York, Chicago, and Columbus.
Allow me to make another sports analogy. In basketball, you can live and die by the three-point shot. Why? Because heavy reliance on it can cause you to win some matches when the shot is on and lose some matches when you are having an off day. FC Dallas relied too much on their ability to find goals late and it cost them this season.
In case you have not noticed, all three of these reasons for FC Dallas faltering after their early-season bloom could be tied together. The captain's performance could help set up and finish more chances. Starting games off with a bang and not relying on the late equalizer directly involves finishing your chances early in the game.
4. The Constant Change
A statistic was passed along to me that was absolutely shocking. The team fielded 31 different lineups over the course of this season.
Let that sink in for a second.
As a player, I would not be able to succeed if I do not have time to establish rapport with my teammates week in and week out. A lot of these lineup changes had to do with situations out of the coach's hands (international call-ups for Perez and Raul Fernandez and injuries). However, coaching decisions had a big effect on these lineup changes as well. We consistently bashed Hyndman for his lack of change. The fact of the matter is that he was forced to change his lineup much more than he wanted to and that cost the Hoops big time this season.
To Sum It All Up
The real common factor in all of the above reasons is bad coaching. A good coach chooses a suitable captain (though nobody expected Ferreira to do this). A good coach changes tactics to optimize attacking weapons and get the most out of those players. A good coach instills discipline into his team to make sure that they do not always rely on magical moments to pull out victories. Finally, a good coach makes the correct adjustments needed to keep his team playing well in the face of adversities.
Having said that, I am sick and tired of people constantly blaming the coach and forgetting the players' lack of effort down the stretch.
Reading above will prove that the coach had a hand in the demise of this team. However, the team giving up on him and not helping him much is another reason for the Hoops failure. Both parties are at fault and (while Schellas has already resigned) it is time for the FC Dallas player pool to get a nice overhaul as well.
Agree/disagree? What do you think contributed to FCD's undoing and the collapse? Any specific players or coaches you would like to blame? Give us your top four reasons for the mayhem.