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Scratching the Chalkboard: April Swoon

Did that Portland game give everyone a blue print on how to beat Dallas?

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I had a conference to work over the weekend, so I missed watching this one live but based on the comments I found, you would think that it was Dallas that was on an 18 game winless streak. I will admit that I had the benefit of knowing the outcome before watching, so my experience was devoid of emotion.

Hedges for MLS MVP?

This may have been the biggest takeaway from the match. FC Dallas went from being one of the better defensive sides in the league to shipping four goals against a team that couldn't score in over 600 minutes of soccer. Of course, the outcome could have been the same had Matt Hedges been out there anyway, but the defensive miscommunications were pretty evident and I'm not sure if it was from the lack of experience playing together but the Zach Loyd - Walker Zimmerman pairing looked very awkward at times.

The first and final goals were probably where their lack of experience playing together were most evident. Zimmerman did not wrap himself in glory by letting that Dillon Powers cross come through, but after rewatching the goal several times, it seems clear to me that he had no idea that Dominique Badji was behind him. Loyd should have said something and perhaps he didn't feel the need to because Hedges would've sent that into the stands, but there was definitely some misunderstandings there.

The last goal is a little harder to pick out but the lack of cohesion is still there.

Goal 4

Dillon Serna is faster than Zimmerman, so I actually think he challenged appropriately... if he was left one on one.He stepped enough to challenge but not enough to where he conceded the space behind him. The problem of course was that this was a wonder strike and 9/10 Serna will sky this out of stadium and that he had a speedy Loyd next to him. Zimmerman should have stepped and gambled, counting on the fact that he had Loyd next to him. It's small, but for this match those small things ultimately cost the team.

Would any of this had happened if Hedges were out there? Maybe, but not likely. Dallas may still very well have given up goals and lost this one, but it wouldn't be because of the mis-communicating defensive line.

Or is the MVP Mauro Diaz?

I appreciate our own Scott Hiney for pointing this out earlier with the staff, but Dallas has gone from 3 wins in 3, 9 points, 6 goals scored and 1 goal against with Mauro Diaz to 0 wins, 1 point, 1 goal scored and 7 against without Super Mauro. For a while, we were pretty content without Diaz given how successful this team was without him once they figured out they were a counter attacking side. But then that Portland game happened and I'm starting to wonder if that will be the blue print that other teams use to neutralize the Dallas attack.

The Colorado Rapids gave up possession (53.5% in Dallas' favor) which meant that they were able to drop their lines deep and cover the space behind them, leaving the likes of Fabian Castillo with nothing to work with. If Castillo doesn't have the space, then the creative spark will need to come from elsewhere and I'm not convinced Dallas has that weapon on the team outside of Diaz. Here are some examples:

Perez Miss
This was the most painful part of the game for me. As you can see Castillo is beginning to make a great run in behind James Riley, is onside and he would be easily through to goal had Perez seen him. Instead, Perez doesn't even look that way and forces the ball into Tesho Akindele who is basically marked by three defenders.

The other big miss came here:

Send the Ball

Prior to this, Dallas opted to go with a short corner and Moises Hernandez slipped and the ball was cycled back without a cross going in. (Yay, wasted chance.) Dallas maintained possession and here's a great chance for Je-Vaughn Watson to send the ball in. What he failed to recognize was that Walker Zimmerman was still up. Yes, everyone was well marked but you have to give your CB a chance to win a 50-50 ball. Instead Watson telegraphs his pass out wide and a Rapids fast break ensues with the defense out of shape.

One more:

Hollingshead

No one made a run for Ryan Hollingshead here. He has the ball on his feet on a fast break. Castillo drifts on the left and doesn't provide a passing lane for Hollingshead. What Castillo should have done was make a horizontal run given that Tesho Akindele did the right thing by fanning out wide to create space. Atiba Harris was also caught here for not making his run harder to where Hollingshead would have seen him.

And finally, look at this hot mess:

Final Third

Dallas' attacking third passing was 54/99, which isn't bad but their game plan basically became hit the ball into the box and hope for the best. All their successful passes were on the outskirts of the 18 and obviously you can see that they're just out of ideas with Diaz pulling the strings.

Of course, this isn't the end of the world. It's just the second loss to a very, very long season. Undoubtedly this kind of performance will bring up the past two season's April swoon and disastrous May and things did turn out OK for this club last season. But for the sake of my liver and my nerves, let's avoid that double digit winless streak this season OK?