FC Dallas returns to Frisco for Saturday evenings match coming off of their second straight loss. If you were watching the game on FS1 last weeked, you would have heard John Strong ask the question multiple times, “Is FC Dallas going to collapse like last year?” It was being mentioned so much that you would have thought FC Dallas was already in a tailspin and is in the exact same place as last season. I was very frustrated at the questioning and wanted to go back and look at last season’s collapse to get an idea of where we are now.
Through 23 matches last year, FC Dallas had amassed 34 points and weren’t in first place in the standings. They ended the season with a total of 46 points, picking up 12 points in their last 11 matches. As we all remember, they missed out on the playoffs because San Jose won the tiebreaker (both teams were on 46 points) by having one more win than Dallas. The one win was at the death in stoppage of the last game of the season. It was that close. So even with Dallas’ horrible collapse last year, they were still one minute of stoppage time away from getting into the playoffs. Obviously none of that is ever mentioned, but it’s good to have a little context.
Looking at this year, through 23 matches, FC Dallas already has 42 points. They are eight points ahead of where they were last year at this time and only four points away from last year’s season totals. They have a better goal differential than last year and are in first place in the west. If Dallas was to finish the season the same way they did last year accumulating 12 points over the last 11 matches, they would still be at 54 points, which should be good enough to host a playoff spot.
Also, FC Dallas has lost back to back games for the first time this year, but still have the second fewest losses in MLS. A lot of people have mentioned that they don’t get a lot of losses because they walk away from matches with a ton of draws. That may be true to an extent, but FC Dallas has more wins in the West than any other club. So, Dallas has more wins than anyone else in the West and the least amount of losses. However, when they get on a national televised game, the narrative is, “Are they going to collapse like last year” or rephrased, “is this team any good?”
My biggest frustration in all of this is about perspective. If FC Dallas manages to finish the season like last year and only manages to get to 54 points, it will be frowned upon as a failure all while Seattle sneaking into the playoffs for the third straight year will be championed as a success. Even in the match Sunday evening, the narrative for Seattle was, “can they turn it on and get back into the playoffs again?” If Seattle was able to average, two points per game for the remaining 11 games of the season, they would finish on 54 points. The same number of points FC Dallas would finish on if they accumulated the same number of points during last year’s collapse. Seattle would only be able to catch FC Dallas’ point total if they played out of their mind and Dallas averaged less than one point a match. There is absolutely no way that happens.
Using those narratives is not only lazy but very misleading. There has been nothing to show that this FC Dallas team is anything like last years. Anytime they have had any sniff of failure, the team has done a really nice job of righting the ship. On top of that, during last year’s collapse the team appeared to be in disarray behind closed doors. There were players who were frustrated with not getting moves out as well as others who just plain out lost their form. A lot of those players were moved on from and it looks like the team is in a really healthy spot now because of it.
I would argue FC Dallas is in a pretty nice position right now. They are on top of the Western Conference standings and pretty much assure to host a playoff match this year. Also, they are still in prime position to finish either first or second and get a guaranteed home and away fixture. The one thing that keeps getting overlooked during this two match winless streak is how Dallas is trying to work in Pablo Aranguiz and Dominque Badji while also waiting for Santiago Mosquera to come back injury. Those are going to be some very important players going forward for this team that aren’t contributing right now. The plus side is that they will all be contributing be the end of the season and FC Dallas has given themselves a cushion to allow for some midseason transactions.
Regardless of what national pundits say, FC Dallas is in a good spot right now. They are on top of the Western Conference, getting new players acclimated to the team, and hopefully getting injured ones back. We will once again have playoff soccer in Frisco this year and hopefully make some noise during it. Don’t be drawn offsides by a lazy national pundits who haven’t taken the time to compare this year to last. Let them continue to champion weaker teams and let us fly under the radar.