After the roller coaster day that was Decision Day across MLS on Sunday, FC Dallas was left pondering the “what ifs” from the disaster that was the 2017 campaign. Dallas missed the playoffs for the first time under Oscar Pareja’s charge and many of the players and coaching staff have called upon reflecting back at the missed opportunities.
Whether settling a standings tie-breaker based on wins is certainly up for debate. Yes, San Jose had more wins than FC Dallas, but also had more losses (14 vs 10) and sneaked into the playoffs with a -21 goal differential. The last time any playoff team had a negative GD was in 2012 by the Vancouver Whitecaps. But even they did it with a relatively respectable -6 GD.
Odd tie-breakers aside, the fact of the matter was that FCD didn’t do enough. Here’s a quick list of some of the games/moments where Dallas should’ve capitalized on.
April 14 at San Jose (1-1, 2 points dropped, 1 point gained for San Jose):
This is the one that many will point to. San Jose equalized in the last minute, resulting in two points dropped for Dallas and what turns out to be a huge 1 point gained for San Jose. 1-1 is a good result on the road against any conference opponent, but this one stings the most when the team was seconds away from stealing all three points.
May 14 vs NYCFC (1-1, 2 points dropped):
This was seemed fairly benign at the time, but NYCFC had no business getting anything from this match. Just one shot on target for NYCFC. Villa’s free kick hit the crossbar, Tommy McNamara was quicker to follow up and just poked the ball into the net. Maximiliano Urruti also hit the crossbar in this one.
May 20 vs San Jose (0-1, 3 points dropped, 3 points gained for San Jose):
Here’s another against San Jose that Dallas should’ve done better with. Dallas gave up a late, late goal to surrender all the points.
August 12 vs Colorado Rapids (0-0, 2 points dropped)
It’s baffling to me how Dallas managed to score 0 against the Rapids at home. At the point in the season, Colorado had only 1 point in all their road games (it was against Toronto of all teams). Dallas’ lethargic play cost them two home points. Also there was the whole goal taken away by VAR too.
August 23 vs Houston (3-3, 2 points dropped)
This one kind of stings. Dallas entered the final Texas Derby match on a four game win-less streak. The team roared to a 3-1 lead by the 52’ minute. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t close the game out and surrendered two more points and El Capitan too.
September 30 at Orlando (0-0, no handball)
This one’s a bit tricky because in one sense, Dallas secured a huge point on the road thanks to the heroics of Jesse Gonzalez. However, it was also the oddest and most frustrating non-use of VAR for a handball inside the penalty area. Dallas probably would’ve scored on their penalty, but then there’s the whole Michael Barrios-Tesho Akindele lineup thing that kind of makes this one a bit fuzzy.
October 7 at Colorado (1-1, 2 points dropped)
Three games left in the season, Tim Howard was not available, with an away game at Seattle looming. Dallas absolutely had to win. This was their final game in hand. Instead of playing like their season was on the line, they walked out there with zero urgency. The season was ultimately over when Dallas failed to win here.
Just from these games alone, Dallas dropped 13 (!) points during the season in games that they should’ve won or probably would’ve won in 2016. When you squander that many opportunities and leave so many points out there for the opposition to take, do you really deserve a spot in the playoffs?