Say farewell to those final, ugly vestiges of June.
It was a pretty poor month for Hoops fans. It was a pretty poor month in many ways.
It doesn't help that Walker Zimmerman, George John and Zach Loyd all spent (and some are still spending) time injured. It doesn't help that this slump comes right after the easy part of Dallas' schedule is over, prompting the doubters to rub their hands in manic glee and proclaim "See?? I told you so!"
There's always an upside. The team isn't playing like we have seen them play for most of the season. Certain players are hurt, and others are slumping or ineffective. The team will improve, of that I'm certain.
It's just hard to see right now.
Losing to LA was something I expected. None of us should have carried any real expectations of a victory in Los Angeles. They have Robbie Keane, a man whose soccer brains could fuel a single chapter of Mensa
"But they're missing...!"
It's LA. Dallas doesn't play well in LA. Whether it's a statistical anomaly, the players' brains playing tricks on them, or voodoo, it doesn't matter. Since the Western Conference final, Dallas has done poorly there. They played poorly last night, just like they're played poorly the past two seasons while visiting the Galaxy.
What stings is being held to a nil-all draw against terrible, no good, very bad Chivas. We have discussed it a bit since then, but the fact remains that not taking advantage of your chances will almost always come back to haunt you. There were many reasons that Dallas failed to take Chivas down, but "being bad" wasn't one of them. In the second half Dallas certainly looked like a mediocre side. But that doesn't negate the fact that the first half was a pretty dominant display by FCD.
"Dominance" doesn't win you games though. Goals do. FCD played well enough that most people expected the Toros to eventually pull three points out. The concern is not that our boys have not been scoring, though being shut out twice in a row is a bit off-putting.
The problem is the once solid defense all of a sudden looks disjointed, and the midfield isn't holding its shape like it was doing a few months back. You could argue that it's because of the tougher schedule, but I don't but that argument entirely. Just looking at Dallas' midfield during the past month is enough to notice the lack of bite it has compared to before, and the defense is much more risky than it used to be.
Dallas has always played its fullbacks aggressively, because their players had the speed and brains to cover their mistakes when exposed. The problem with this is that not only has Jair Benitez slowed considerably, but Loyd has been very disappointing since mid May. He has been making some very poor decisions positionally that his athleticism just can't make up form.
To adapt a quote one of the masterpieces of American cinema: His ego's writing checks his body can't cash.
For me, Loyd's dip in form is one of the most concerning things of this slump. Before, you could count on Zach to shut down most attacks that came his way. If he ran upfield to attack, you could count on crosses or passes that created some havoc. His passes no longer carry that kind of threat, his crosses have been wild, and he's being exposed far more than he used to. That it has been going on for a while make it worse than if it was just for a game or two.
Benitez' getting exposed? Well, he's old. It happens. One on one, he's still a very smart defender. At any rate, we aren't counting on Benitez to secure the left flank forever. Benitez concerns me, but not that much.
Dallas is slumping. Every team slumps and I'm not prone to hyperbole, so I don't think the sky is falling. But this run has definitely exposed this teams' weaknesses, and it's something other teams will key in on even more going forward.
But while we're in a slump, consider this popular question: "Where would Dallas be without Michel's set piece prowess?"
I shudder to think.