Well, here we are again, stuck on 57 points after another incredibly disappointing loss to Sporting Kansas City last weekend. Let’s look at the final match of regular season as FC Dallas heads West to take on the Colorado Rapids.
Colorado has been in the basement of the standings all season and currently sit next to last in 11th, seven points ahead of San Jose. They have one win in their last 10 games and have only seven wins on the entire season. Last week’s draw with San Jose brought their point total up to a robust…28.
After last week’s debacle, Dallas are in third place in the West on Decision Day tied with LAFC for second on points but sit third due to Goal Differential. It’s all straight forward for Dallas – win this game and guarantee a top two finish. Draw or worse and we could see Dallas slide all the way to fifth.
Formation: 4-4-2 (Diamond)
In what has become a disheartening final stretch of the season, FC Dallas has one last chance to quell the doubters out there and the doubts in their heads. Luckily, a final game against Colorado could be just the ticket to get the confidence back. Take the above lineup of names with a grain of salt. Colorado appears to be trying to #playthekids over the final weeks of the season. Last week marked the first time the Rapids had three homegrowns in the matchday 18 and apparently, they want to continue that trend to give some hope to their fan base. Good for them, and the fans. It’s an opportunity to see the team with rose colored glasses. But also, good for Dallas, as it’s an opportunity to escape the crap that they would have to deal with if they lose this game. It’s also an opportunity to see our old friend Kellyn Acosta and revisit the trade from early this season. By all accounts it appeared this was a win for Kellyn. A new situation seemed to have reinvigorated him. He scored in his first two appearances and then had two assists in his third. Then…he turned into the Kellyn who had been playing with Dallas the past few months. He has not tallied a goal or assist since those first games and has not had much influence in results since. As for the Dallas assets, well, Badji has been, um, fine, I guess. Maybe it speaks more to how the past few weeks have played out, but it seems neither player had quite the desired impact on the season that these teams were looking for. As for the draft picks and payment plans – who knows. As fellow Big D writer Nathan Hill put it, this was a “meh-meh” trade.
In assessing how Colorado now play, as compared to the first meeting – it’s difficult to say. All aspects of the game have kind of been broken since that draw against Dallas. They stopped scoring goals at even a league average rate and once again scored the fewest goals in MLS for the second straight season. Couple that with a bottom six goals conceded defense and their minus 29 goal differential puts them next to last in the league. Basically, Colorado is fine with letting the other team have possession, shoot more shots, and in better areas; and for good measure they foul more often than every team but New England. They will try to counter, it usually doesn’t work. They will try to play through the middle and play intricate passes amongst the attacking players – it’s usually just given away. They try to put in crosses, except they have no one to cross to. It’s telling that Dominque Badji, who was traded in July, is still the leading scorer for the team…by double the next closest player. Badji left Colorado with seven goals. Edgar Castillo is now the team leader with three on the season.
I can’t begin to describe how I think Dallas will play in this game. It should be a cake walk, a walk in the park, a fine day to get a lead and play three subs for the entire second half. It should be so easy…but apparently Dallas doesn’t like easy. Every key stat says Dallas will have an edge, more than an edge, a chasm, in this game. They are easily more talented at every spot on the field. I also wrote those words in my preview of San Jose. Face. Palm.
Key Matchup: Goal Scoring Observations
Rather than call out another attacker to score this week, I will leave it to the team. One interesting note for Colorado is – once they give up one goal, they usually give up more. There have been only four games where they held their opponent to one goal and even then, Colorado only has two wins from that. The key here is if you score once, you should score again. And if you score again, there is a greater than 95% chance you win the game. Your move, Dallas.
1. Defense Wins It – Again, I don’t want to dwell on last week, it was a pitiful performance. It was also a bit unlucky the way the game unfolded. The defense, has been better, can be better, and will be better.
2. Beware the Counter – This point involves more than the defense and is one of the few areas Dallas will need to be careful. There are a number of players that can get out on the break and score and it only takes one to change a match.
3. Ruin the Reunion – First, I hope Kellyn has a wonderful career and fulfills his vast potential playing at some European club team. Just not this week. Don’t let Kellyn become the hero. Not for Colorado. Not as the symbolic one we wish we had right now. Tackle him on the field, hug him after final whistle. After a Dallas win.
In this final game of the season, Dallas has so much on the line. After a rough few weeks in Summer, the calls of another Summer Swoon were put to bed. But Dallas has been playing some uninspiring soccer this Fall and this game may come back to bite them. Anything other than a win should be seen as unacceptable by the locker room, front office, and fans. Colorado is one of the worst teams in the league and have nothing but pride to play for. Dallas needs to win, they must win. And I think they will, 2-0. Onward to the playoffs!