The road is never a kind place to any team in Major League Soccer. FC Dallas extended their road winless streak on Sunday to eight games but in a weird twist they also extended their current league unbeaten run to six games. Funny how draws do that to a team in this league.
Anyways, going into the game I felt a draw was going to be about right. In the end, the result was a fair one at the very least given all things considered.
Gutsy formation change
You have to give Oscar Pareja some credit for what he did on Sunday. Without Fabian Castillo (suspension), Andres Escobar (random injury that no one knew of until Sunday), Je-Vaughn Watson (family issue) and only a half out of both Mauro Diaz and Matt Hedges (yet another injury?), going with the group of players that he did in the manner that he did nearly paid off.
We knew Vancouver was going to get the bulk of the time on the ball. They're a physical team that loves to go at you with speed. Their opening goal was certainly something that this formation should have stopped but Darren Mattocks is a tricky player to cover even with your best lineup. I have to give Gershon Koffie props for that ball too, it was splendid.
Still, the 5-3-2...or 3-5-2...whatever you want to call it nearly paid off in the first half for the club. Both Zach Loyd and Moises Hernandez got up into the attack just enough to cause havoc on the Whitecaps defense midway through that first half once FC Dallas settled down into this game. Hernandez's ball to Loyd on the first FCD goal was exactly what you want to see out of your full back going forward in that situation. Just a great ball that Loyd was unlucky not to score on. I still think with goal-line tech that may have been a Loyd goal and not a Blas Perez goal. Still, FCD got it in the back of the net when it mattered.
But that formation also led to causing some issued after that goal. Sure the club didn't have to do much to cause Carlyle Mitchell to have one of the biggest goofs of the season but again, on the road you take what you can get.
But that lack of possession
Even with the goals, FCD still was unable to get any real possession in this one. Not to mention the unlucky call against Hernandez on the Whitecaps penalty.
The lack of possession in this game led to a ton of chances for Vancouver. They outshot FCD on the day by a large margin. They had 30 shots on the day, FCD had just 10. Crazy.
Thankfully with all of those chances Raul Fernandez had one of his better days in the net. Aside from the lack of effort on the Pedro Morales penalty, Fernandez was a beast in the second half when FCD needed him to be. Save after save, Superman came to play in the biggest way possible.
But there has to be something said about how Vancouver dominated large portions of this game. As good as Victor Ulloa and Adam Moffat looked (yes, Moffat has really come into his own lately), the possession stunk. Diaz rarely got on the ball in the second half and rarely looked like a threat. Part of that was the 4-4-2, but also part of that was a lack of time on the ball.
All things considered
What can you say about these last two months? Six games, no losses, some solid road points in difficult places. I still firmly believe this team is good enough to win the remainder of their home games and pick up some draws like this on the road in their final couple months of the season. That will be more than enough in my mind to reach the playoffs this season.
The summer months have always been difficult to this club over the last few years but so far this year we're nearly through the summer months without any real bit issues. Sure, injuries are still an issue but they are like that for nearly every club at this point in the season. Yes, the games in hand are going to start playing a factor as FCD has played more games this season than most clubs.
But where FCD has the advantage is how they manage themselves under Pareja. This team just has a completely different mindset right now. Before, had they lost in the way that they did back in May, it would have wrecked their summer months as well. This group came together and figured out a way to make things work to get their season back on track.
We still have a long, long way to go this season but everything is in this club's hands to get back into the playoffs. Thankfully few people outside of Dallas realize that this group is unbeaten in the last two months. I'm perfectly fine with this club having the underdog role tagged to them from here on out.