I’ve been thinking this thought for some time here this season but the last eight weeks have showed me more about this current FC Dallas team to really solidify this line of thinking: maybe this current team just really isn’t that good.
My normal glass-half full mentality struggles with this but it is where I’m going. I know it is easy to think that way after this current stretch of games. We’ve gone over the vast array of issues plaguing the team at the moment from the defensive side of things, all the way up to the attack not coming together enough. I’d also throw in the rest of the league may have caught up to this group too.
In all seriousness, think about the moments this season where this team has actually looked really good. That Toronto win back at the beginning of July was probably the last time they look really good as an entire unit. Before that, the blowout over Real Salt Lake in June. It seems crazy now that this is the same team that also went unbeaten in the first nine games.
Mental lapses and body language
Sunday’s 3-0 loss in Georgia to Atlanta United was another sign that this group just isn’t what we thought they were. They’re no longer the same team that went toe-to-toe with Pachuca in the Champions League semifinals. They’re almost a shell of a team that won two titles last year.
Defensively it was yet another poor showing from this group. Jason Poon broke things down nicely earlier today as to what happened against Atlanta. The pure and simple answer is that this group struggles with high-pressure attacks.
As good as Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman are in the air and in the defense, their passing out of the back has regressed massively this season, even more so in the past two months. I won’t dive too much into how Zimmerman has regressed since his injury. I think at the end of the day it is a mental thing more than anything else with him.
On the wings, Hernan Grana and Maynor Figueroa looked like players that were two or three steps behind their mark. Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta and Carlos Gruezo all struggled to handle the speed out of the midfield.
In all, the effort wasn’t there and it was eye opening. By the time the third goal was scored by Greg Garza, the body language of each player on the field wasn’t good. Shoulders were slumped and the pressure being put on players wasn’t coming, even from subs like Tesho Akindele.
Lineup thoughts and questions
I get the thought of adding Ryan Hollingshead back into the midfield over Roland Lamah. He was meant to be the protection for Figueroa on the left side. Instead, Atlanta over loaded that side. And then they’d over load the other side. For a team that is built with wing play in mind, Dallas didn’t have a single answer for the play on the wings.
Adding Hollingshead forced more pressure on Mauro Diaz, who by all accounts had a solid outing. Bringing Lamah off mean the attack went through Diaz, Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti. It was a gamble that worked a week ago against New York but against a team that brings even more pressure like Atlanta, it meant there was one less attacking option to help open up on a counter.
Then there is the whole Cristian Colman coming off the bench aspect. In a way, this game needed a player like him up top with Urruti. Colman has shown plenty of times that he is able to put Urruti in good spots, which also opens up Barrios to be more dangerous on the wings. I get he hasn’t been worth the $2 million that the club paid for him, but he was the type of player that Dallas lacked in the attack on Sunday.
What is next
So here we are, seven games to go with a playoff spot on the line. Seattle comes to town this weekend for a big showdown that is certainly a must-win. The margin for error is now razor thin for this group. Another loss, and things could continue to spin further out of control.