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Scratching the Chalkboard: Dallas still “learning” but shows better fight

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Hopefully Dallas can replicate their 2nd half performance for the rest of the season

MLS: FC Dallas at Philadelphia Union Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas followed up their 4-0 thumping from the Vancouver Whitecaps with a deceiving 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union. By standings alone, Dallas should’ve handled both clubs with relative ease but as with this league, anything is possible for 90 minutes against any team. Dallas seemed to be ready to kick on after putting up 3 league wins in a row, but have fallen into a miserable two game slump that continues to remind the fans that this team is still a work in progress - which is concerning given that the “core” of this team is no longer comprised of youth. They are now seasoned veterans in this league and these annual 4-0, 3-1 losses to lesser teams are an annual occurrence giving some to wonder why they seem to need to “learn” from these same mistakes year after year.

Chris Seitz’s quotes about last night’s game being the reason for concern that this team is still trying to figure why things aren’t working.

On paper, these results look awful but the 3-1 scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story that Dallas did play much better than they did last week, and barring the heroics of Union GK John McCarthy, FCD would’ve walked away with something from last night.

Sometimes it’s just not your night

Tactics, formations and personnel can only carry you so far in the game of soccer. The element of luck is a deceiving factor and last night, luck was not on Dallas’ side. The game state of falling behind 2-0 by the 22nd minute altered the way both teams approached the final 70ish minutes of the game, with the Union able to sit back and absorb and Dallas keen on pushing to grab a result. Dallas managed 18 shots, with 10 on target yet somehow only put one goal in the back of the net. Sometimes, soccer is cruel like that.

The upside in all this was seeing the Dallas response after the first half: 11 shot attempts, 7 on target with 3 blocked.

Opportunities were wasted, but all you can ask from your team is that on the offensive, you put your shots on target and force the keeper to make a save. Dallas did do that and did it well. In any other night, 2-3 of those would’ve made it past McCarthy, but just not this evening.

Seeing Dallas push and throw numbers forward, despite it being 3-0 in the late stages of the game was encouraging. If nothing else, the scoreline seemed to anger the players and put a little burn in them to rectify the scoreline. If Dallas can bottle that level of intensity and replicate it against the Colorado Rapids, the fans should be treated a three point party next week.

Cermeno’s Role

We finally got a chance to take a look at Carlos Cermeno in an extended role when was named to the Starting XI. Up until last night, Cermeno has only featured in 7 matches (2 starts) and only 233 minutes. It was hard to properly evaluate him in spot duty, but in the limited sample size, it looked like Cermeno had something to offer and was a definite upgrade over Juan Esteban Ortiz.

Cermeno’s passing chops and overall tidiness on the ball is a big asset. Every team needs someone who can cycle the ball and keep possession for you. And with the looming prospect of Kellyn Acosta being sold this transfer window or the next, having someone with Cermeno’s skill set (who’s only 21) is imperative.

This isn’t to say he’ll be a like for like Acosta replacement, but if Dallas’ best formation is the 4-2-3-1 with Mauro Diaz in the CAM role, then there needs to be depth for the two DMs behind Carlos Gruezo, Victor Ulloa and Acosta (who’s starting to show he may not actually be a true DM anyway).

No, it did not look good for Cermeno that three goals were scored against his team when he was on the field, but he’s still new to the team and league and has at least shown that he might be someone to keep an eye out on for 2018.