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What we learned against the Portland Timbers: The pieces aren’t good enough

Dallas has been building a project that was doomed to fail from the start

MLS: Knockout Round-Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas’ plan for competing in the league has been a lot like the Johnny Cash song, “One Piece at a Time.” If you aren’t familiar with the song, it’s about a guy that works in the Cadillac factory who tries to build his own Cadillac by taking one piece home with him at a time. At first he has problems putting the parts together because they were all from different years, but ultimately he gets his free car. The problem is: it looks like crap and everyone laughs at him as he drives by.

For years Dallas been trying to compete at the highest level without paying for it. They’ve been trying to build a team one piece at a time but unlike the song, no one is shocked when the pieces don’t fit together and the end product is lackluster. Lastly, the assembly line that the front office are pulling pieces off of is definitely not in a Cadillac factory. While many players boast impressive résumés (Ziegler- Tottenham and Juventus, Lamah- Belgian international), the pieces on their own just don’t end up being that impressive.

If Dallas want to compete with big teams, they have to spend like them. As the league loses parity because of ambitious ownership groups, FC Dallas are being left in the dust. Maybe the homegrown plus cheap South American formula worked in MLS of three years ago, but not anymore.

Since Pareja’s arrival Dallas have had a stellar record in the regular season, but they’ve consistently lacked the top level talent to compete for the Cup. While maybe Dallas needed to do right by selling Mauro Diaz, you have to acknowledge that he would have offered Dallas better attacking options than watching Barrios do this:

All of Barrios’ attempted open play crosses including 0 successful ones

or watching Mosquera rip shots into outer space.

It doesn’t feel like Dallas have anyone to look to for inspiration right now. Hopefully Pablo Aranguiz is that guy in the future, but right now, Dallas’ one piece at a time philosophy has unsurprisingly failed to bring the team any post-season success.

What really makes things sad is that nothing is going to change and we know it. The Hunts know exactly what they’re doing and have done a great job doing it. They’ve created a team that is cheap, but never bad enough to garner them too much criticism. They’ve used the academy system as a way of creating real concrete ties to the community and to generate cheap players, so if anyone criticizes their lack of spending they can point to the academy and say they don’t need to spend.

I would say that I’d like to see a purge of most of the players on the roster, but I don’t trust that their replacements will be any better. An underwhelming wave of signings that initially appeared ambitious have fallen on their faces and I’m not sure I have faith that this offseason will be any different.

We aren’t going to bring in a Valeri, Rooney, or Zlatan and I’ll be writing the same article next year.