I have to keep reminding myself that this is a long season. The old phrase that it is a marathon and not a sprint continues to ring true in my head but after this past week I am reminded at just how brutal these seasons can be. Four straight losses, all involving some bad luck in some form or the other.
There will be plenty to take away from last night's game that we'll touch on this week. Here are some thoughts that I took away from the 2-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes.
Droughts, floods and more
What is funny is we've seen these bad spells before with FC Dallas. The last two seasons saw long winless droughts that cost the team a playoff berth. But there is a difference and maybe even a silver lining in this group that is different than those last two seasons: heart.
As frustrating as last night's loss was, the team continues to show heart in a manner that we haven't seen here in ages. The players continue to play for one another and continue to push one another.
Oscar Pareja has instilled a very good team first mentality with this group, something that with time will lead to more success.
But we're here to talk about the here and now. One thing that is lacking, which is odd considering the amount of veteran players on this team is leadership. Someone to step up and make everyone accountable. Andrew Jacobson was a good choice for the captain's armband at the start of the season but right now that pick feels safe and not in a good way. This could be because of George John missing. Or even because of Peter Luccin being sidelined. Last year we used to say that the team lacked a bite in the midfield but now it appears that they just lack someone to really keep everyone honest and accountable.
Oh that finishing
Yes we certainly do miss Mauro Diaz.
Luck is a funny thing when you don't have it. Games can slip away quickly and aside from Michel's wonderful free kick goal, last night was just one of those nights that nothing was going right. Missed shot after missed shot. Goal line clearance after freakin' goal line clearance.
Blas Perez had possibly the most frustrating night of all but I would say his issues stem back from his missed penalty a week ago and maybe beyond that. Maybe it was the brief time off that Pareja gave him that hurt his finishing. Maybe it is his constant complaining to the officials that shows his head isn't in the game. Whatever it may be, it is time for him to get back to the basics here.
The same can be said for a lot of players in the attack. Fabian Castillo is another player that has been working on his finishing for a while now this season but at some point things have to click. His speed was too valuable last night on the edge even before the red card to Shea Salinas. The decision making that he continues to display is also frustrating and may be another story for another day.
At least we're seeing more out of guys like Danny Garcia and Victor Ulloa. Both had solid performances again last night and both are proving to be big time starters for this team. Tesho Akindele had his first game and wasn't great but also wasn't horrible in the process.
And that defending
Another game down and yet another bad couple of goals given up. I'll leave the own-goal to David Texeira alone, that kind of thing sadly enough happens (or at least in FCD's case continues to happen). But the first goal to San Jose was just another mental lapse in the back.
I have to wonder, maybe Walker Zimmerman was brought back too quickly here this season following his injury. Or maybe it was just bad timing that Stephen Keel went down with a foot injury.
Maybe Matt Hedges is in need of a break. As good as he has been this season he has had to clean up a ton of messes both because of Jair Benitez but because of other players.
Time heals everything
I keep coming back to a phrase that time does heal everything. I do think after a while the defense will sort itself out and earn a shutout. The offense will click again and score more than just off a set piece. And more importantly, that this team will put together a full effort for 90 minutes.
Again, this is a long and brutal season. As good as March and April appeared, May was proven that this team has a ton of work still left to do. I touched on the heart of this team early and I want to bring it up one more time. The effort is there for this team to be successful, at some point the dominos will fall in the right direction for them because of that effort and heart.