We’ve talked a lot on this space about how well FC Dallas has started off this year but just like with every MLS season, it is always a marathon and not a sprint. While things are going well for FC Dallas at the top of the standings right now, there is plenty of reasons to want to pump the breaks just a little on any potential title celebrations this season.
Set piece defending
This has easily been the toughest area to see improvement in this season. We’ve discussed it here plenty of times this season. While I do think the last couple of weeks before the Copa America break were better from the Dallas defense, there is still a lot of worry with this part of the defending.
Mostly my concern does center around the mix of players being used in the back. We know that when Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman are paired together, the height that FCD needs in the back on set pieces is there to handle just about anyone in the league. But when Zimmerman or Hedges are out and Zach Loyd or even a Maynor Figueroa are in the middle of the defense, teams have been able to pick their spots a little more and find the back of the net on set pieces.
If this area doesn't improve in the second half of the season, you can probably forget about adding a trophy to the case in Toyota Stadium.
No true striker showing up
We had high hopes for Maximiliano Urruti at the beginning of the season when he busted out three goals in four games. But since then he has gone ice cold in terms of scoring goals. While he may help create chances for others, FCD still needs a 10-15 goal scorer on their team.
Right now the best hope of anyone hitting 10 goals sits with either Michael Barrios or Tesho Akindele. Both have five goals through 16 games and seem to be in prime position to win the Golden Boot for the club this season.
A lot certainly will happen in the final 18 games of the season but we all know how important getting the attack back to what we all expected it to be this season is here.
Things like this and international call ups seem to come and go in waves. Last year the club was hit heavily by the call ups and this year it seems to be back more in the injury front. Thankfully outside of Hedges’ injury and Mauro Diaz missing a game or two so far, the club hasn’t been plagued heavily on injuries this season. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t say it wasn’t a concern. I’ve had many players, coaches, GMs and other front office people tell me that injuries are just part of the game and are to be expected when you least expect them.
The remaining schedule
FC Dallas has played 16 game thus far, which is also one to four games more than everyone else in the league. This means there are more chances for other teams below FCD to catch up as the season rolls on.
Just like in previous seasons when a team has a loaded schedule early on, it means things will balance out in the end while that team is dealing with Champions League games in the late summer and early fall.
The schedule has been pretty decent to FCD this season but the second half of the season won’t be nearly as kind. Between the potential for more US Open Cup games should FCD continue to advance in that tournament to the Champions League group games that we know the team will deal with, the schedule is about to get jam packed with games and more importantly travel.
There are two Central American trips on the schedule in the CCL to go with trips left to LA, Seattle, NYC, Salt Lake (twice), San Jose and Colorado. That will be a lot of miles on the legs of these plays when it is all said and done.