For the first time since 2012, FC Dallas lost to Houston Dynamo on Saturday night and the manner in which it happened was brutal and unexpected. Houston were 4-0 up before half an hour had even been played, something few could have envisaged in their best attempts to conjure up a worst case scenario. Coming up with five points, or lessons, learned from this disaster was as difficult as watching the whole 90 minutes, but I've somehow managed to do it. Here they are:
1. When the going got tough, we didn't get going. Most of us that were watching were probably waiting for the moment that FCD would wake up and take the game to Houston after conceding early but it never happened. Instead the team looked disjointed, lost, and completely out of sorts as Houston netted four within 30 minutes. The attitude and reaction of the players was not good enough to say the least and it's clear that there is plenty of work to be done if Oscar Pareja's idea of establishing a winning mentality in the team is to be realized.
2. Defense is still a clear weakness of this team. We had our concerns last year, we had our concerns in pre-season, and we have our concerns made concrete on the evidence of this performance. At least 2 or 3 goals were gifted to Houston that should never have happened which is unacceptable at this level. Atiba Harris was nowhere defensively which makes the lack of a replacement for JVW even more worrying, Maynor Figueroa had a night to forget against Houston's right side and was lucky not to see red, Walker Zimmerman didn't really endear himself to Oscar too much in his hopes of being a regular, and Matt Hedges had an uncharacteristically terrible game. Kellyn Acosta also turned over and lost many balls for the second game running which surely raises a few question marks about his contribution to the defensive issues as well. Championships are won on the foundation of a solid defense and on the basis of Saturday night, FCD is still a long way away from having one.
3. This team is still prone to at least one catastrophic game a year. It happened against DC United in 2014, last year against Colorado in Frisco, and again here. The most puzzling part is that it seems to happen out of nowhere and when least expected. It's very much possible that FCD may go on to win the Western Conference in the regular season just like last season. Heck, even Portland won the MLS Cup despite getting destroyed three times in the regular season, including once against FCD and a 5-0 loss themselves to LA Galaxy. However, these sort of performances should not be happening or accepted if the club wants to aspire to a higher level and become everything Pareja wants them to stand for.
4. Everyone has been humbled after a week of much smack talk and complacency. Beating Houston became a routine and regular thing in the past few seasons, but the amount of arrogance that a lot of those involved with FCD last week sure was off the radar at times. It's left everyone looking pretty silly and all those 4-to-1 jokes don't seem so funny when you're on the end of a 5-0 walloping yourself. Time to put up or shut up, only through hard work and humility will anything be achieved, and I'm sure this will be a huge lesson and learning curve for the team and coaching staff.
5. We can be sure that Oscar Pareja is going to light a fire in every player that took part to ensure this doesn't happen again. As nice of a guy he is in general, Pareja also has a bad side that was evidently brought out on Saturday night. He was noticeably frustrated and had a look of anguish on the sideline during the first half and no wonder when the team played as bad as they did. You wouldn't be blamed if you got scared seeing the look on his face from watching on television, now imagine what the players must have encountered after the game and in the training sessions since. He's going to make their lives a lot harder from now on and beat it into their heads that they must do a whole lot better if they want to live up to expectations this year and not just hope that things will come to them. Expect to see and hear about fierce reactions from Papi over the coming weeks as the recovery process from this mauling begins.