For a team that has had more time to practice lately, things definitely have not looked any better in most areas.
If we're honest with ourselves, Dallas probably should have lost that game on Saturday evening. If Marco Di Vaio had started, there was a 90% chance (a statistic carefully derived from the "I guess" method) that there was a multi-goal defeat in Quebec.
Where do we start?
The midfield's lack of possession was shockingly bad. Je-Vaughn Watson wasted possession so frequently that it was barely 25 minutes into the match before many were calling for him to be subbed. If his complete lack of regard for the ball wasn't enough, he again exhibited a completely lackadaisical approach to anything resembling defense. He had a moment or two where he tracked back, but there needs to be more than that. Far more. I can't count the number of times where the ball with within 5 yards of him, and he was content to watch one of our defenders try to stop the attack, while he leisurely trotted back just in time for the ball to leave the vicinity.
I can't say enough about how poor his effort was on the night. Skill and vision, instinct? Those can't be helped. You either have them, or you don't. Work can only improve those so much. But effort is one of those things that even the least skilled player can put out, and Watson's effort was unacceptable.
On the flip side, Zach Loyd had himself an incredible game. Over and over and over he stepped in to cut out a dangerous pass, or dispossess an attacker, or position himself just well enough to break up a play. For me it was the best game Loyd has played all season, with maybe only one or two others matching it. George John and Matt Hedges were brilliant as well, and Jair Benitez was no slouch.
There's a theme in that last paragraph: the defense rocked. They stood tall and did just about everything and anything you could hope for them to do. If they had performed even slightly below the level than they had last night, this is a loss. As bad as our possession has been, our defense can give us all hope. With the midfield allowing the Impact to basically walk in unimpeded, it was four men (plus our great keeper) who held the entire operation together.
Several things were troubling besides possession though. Remember all the talk about how after that crazy run of fixtures had run its course, there would be a lot of practice? Well, this team sure didn't look any better.
If anything, they looked worse. This problem isn't unique to FCD. DC United practices every day and they're still terrible. But the concern comes from the fact that it feels as though we have hit rock bottom, but aren't really improving after our drop in form, despite the talent on the roster. I say "rock bottom" because I am not sure the midfield and forwards could have been much worse.
AJ did well enough for a holding midfielder, but Michel has been limited now that opponents have keyed in on him. David got no cover from Watson, whose speed and ability going forward is supposed to allow Ferreira room to breathe. Eric Hassli missed a golden opportunity. Kenny Cooper? I don't remember seeing him on the field.
The coaching? Well, besides the lack of improvement (which happens to everyone), what concerns me is that Michel was taken out instead of Wastson. There are many hyperboles I can go with to describe that one, but I won't. I think the absurdity of that substitution speaks for itself. Michel wasn't hot stuff on the field at that point, but missing his set piece taking was definitely something that hurt, especially considering that Watson was left on the field instead.
There were positives about the attack, I think. No one was mauled by a bear. That's a good thing.
It's not the end of the world, and changing coaches midseason and benching player X (except for Watson) won't fix these problems. This is more of a team-wide funk, and all we can do is hope it goes away quickly. I'm not saying FCD is LA Galaxy levels of great, but the Galaxy has had several similar slumps throughout the past two years, so it's not necessarily a sign that FCD is as bad as DC yet.
In the meantime we can all pray to our chosen deity that the Hoops don't forget what a soccer ball looks like.