There is no doubt that the last two weeks have been rough on FC Dallas fans. The club has lost two straight and have given up seven goals along the way in their losses to Vancouver and Philadelphia.
As we return to our round table discussion thread here on Big D Soccer, our staff looks at what they think the team needs to do to break out of their current slump as they head into the stretch run of the season.
Nathan Hill - Meditation
It’s time for Oscar Pareja to institute a strict meditation policy. Like quiet time or positive imaginative reinforcement, once per training session. Get the team in a circle, put on some soft music, and invite each player into their safe space. Have them settle down, resting in the calm presence of the Present, knowing that they, no matter what others say, are good enough to win. Have them visualize the field and their upcoming opponents, watching the ball dart playfully around. Ask them to notice their feelings as they pass to teammates, take blistering shots on goal, and focus on each blade of grass with vivid clarity. Invite them to consider whatever it is that is holding them back from playing with a renewed purpose - or, I don’t know, playing in a way that is at least a little less embarrassing. Then, in a moment inspired from church youth groups, have them write down that barrier on a notecard and burn it in a bbq pit as a symbol of letting go and releasing the negative energy into the cosmos.
Also, in the words of Douglas Adams, “don’t panic.” The team is going to be just fine.
Jeff Loftin - Get Healthy in Mind & Body
If we take a step back and look at the team as a whole, there is a lot of healing to do. Maybe not so much physically, but mentally. Hedges & Acosta seem to be beaten down by the Gold Cup experience, and honestly neither one was at their best with the USMNT. Getting out of the funk that the team is in is going to take their best work and that will mean getting out of their own heads. I do not expect this to take very long, but the residual effects of future call-ups and the stress involved therein will surely play a role as the season progresses. Zimmerman is a bit more concerning because his injury is physical, which can easily lead to mental or psychological problems. He is not 100% healthy, at least by all appearances, though he seems to be creeping closer to that state. The funk the team is in should subside based on the normal ebbs and flows of a season, but getting healthy is going to speed up that process. The team SHOULD be fine, I emphasize should because there have been plenty of collapses in DFW sports history. Once our guys get back to their old smiling selves (or in Hedges’ case - his old bloody self) the rest of the team will pick up off of that energy.
Mohammad Bushnaq - Sha Sha Sha Shake It Up
The team has been pretty stagnant for the last couple of matches both offensively and defensively, so I would like to see Oscar light a fire under his veterans by playing the young guns in a meaningful match. Give me Jesus, Paxton, Hayes and Reggie in some way, shape, or fashion over the next couple of weeks. Everybody should be given the opportunity to impress and bring the team out of this funk. Two consecutive blowouts should indicate some wholesale changes again and I really want to see the youth get their shot. I am not clamoring for a Guillen and Hume back line just yet, but if it takes Fig and Hedges to stabilize the defense, so be it. I don't think anybody should take their positions for granted and I hope Pareja makes that clear to his team.
El Chico Carmona - Sing it with me, Hakuna Matata!
So FCD loses on the road without Acosta and Gruezo in the lineup, no Zim starting and people begin to panic? Really?
FCD will be fine. No changes needed, no magic elixir required. Just a return to normalcy should do the trick.
Jason Poon - Remain Calm and Carry On
Dallas still holds the best PPG (1.62) in the West and holds at least two games in hand with every team in the West currently sitting in a playoff spot. Two game losing streak is no reason to panic. Every team has a falls into a bit of a rut. It’s just our turn now. Everyone else will have theirs too.
Jared Tilley - Keep Grinding
Teams go through ups and downs. With this team, they are still trying to find their identity with lineups. For most of the first half of the season, the team has been playing without their full lineup. As the first team squad starts playing together (along with a healthy and in form Mauro) this team will find its legs. Coming into the season, late October and early November have been the target they are aiming at. Getting there can be mundane. The team is fine and will figure it out. We just have to be patient with them.
Scott Hiney - Basically Nothing
I haven’t read the answers above, but I bet at least one mentions the awful losses last year’s squad had, and that ended up being the best season in club history.
The squad’s training schedule, rotation and set of available players has been in flux. The offense is still creating chances, but it takes time and squad consistency to get those chances turned into goals — and that starts and ends with Diaz, Urruti and Gruezo/Acosta getting consistent minutes together. Walker and Matt haven’t had a ton of time back together and their pairing needs time to rejuvenate as well. We know what this side is capable of, and outside of a weird part of the season that’s included injuries, call-ups and average teams playing very above-average, nothing has signaled a major shift in player mindset or ability — and that’s ultimately the essence of what earns success.
Take heart, this team will Busca la Forma.