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Scratching the Chalkboard: Different Team, Different Mentality... Same Result?

Is this beginning of the Collapse of 2018?

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If the team and Oscar Pareja are tired of the questions about the Collapse of 2017, then they should make damn sure they don’t do anything to cause anyone to be reminded of it. That starts with winning the 2018 game that mimics where the Collapse began.

That game was last night, against San Jose, a team that had not won since May 12th and was enduring a horrific 12 match win-less streak. To say this was a winnable game is a gross understatement. Compare that to that 4-0 spanking that Dallas took on July 29th of 2017 at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps (who were 8-8-3 at the time). Both games were at home, and there was absolutely no reason a first place team should be outplayed that badly in their own building by the visiting side. Yet, it happened... again.

If this does spark another collapse, here’s where we can point to where things began to unravel.

Jesse’s Inconsistent Play

Jesse Gonzalez plays goalkeeper like a winger: high risk, high reward. His shot stopping skills are Top 5 in this league but his decision making still screams young and inexperienced. Those are the realities and what you have to live with when you play a 23 year old keeper with 5,220 minutes of game experience.

The opening goal came against the run of play and set the tone for how Dallas would have to play the rest of the match.

Gonzalez made the wrong decision to come off his line during a non threatening sequence. Vako did have a step on Matt Hedges initially, but the angle of the pass was away from goal. Vako would’ve collected the ball but his first touch would either go towards goal and into Hedges’ path or away from goal, and away from any clear goal scoring opportunity. Reto Ziegler and Marquinhos Pedroso were also making their recovery runs and were in position to provide some cover too.

And this is where Gonzalez has to improve. If he scanned the field, he would’ve seen he had three defenders with him and only two attackers. None of the attackers were in a dangerous position. His decision to abandon his goal was high risk and one that he had to absolutely get to the ball or... well, you know.

Gonzalez is still incredibly young. So these are the kinds of things you expect from young keepers. However, these are the same mistakes he’s been making since he first took the reigns as a starter four years ago when he was 19. Those mistakes are coming at a lower rate, and they haven’t cost this team too many points yet. But surely this is something to watch for should the team start dropping points to teams they don’t have any business losing to.

Wrong Sub

I do not know if Victor Ulloa had picked up an injury or not, so this criticism may not be fair, but it certainly was a head scratcher when Oscar Pareja subbed off Ulloa in favor of Jacori Hayes. Ulloa was playing well, getting forward and giving San Jose some problems by making late runs behind the play, which made the switch all the more confusing.

Ulloa’s passing chart vs SJ. (Green - successful pass. Red - unsuccessful pass. Yellow - key pass.)

This isn’t a knock against Hayes - though Hayes did look a bit rusty in the first 10 minutes of action - as he’s been one of the team’s best midfielders. The sub did force Dallas’ hand for the last sub as it left Pareja with one less option when Reggie Cannon seemingly injured his right hamstring. At the time it looked like Paxton Pomykal was ready to sub in, but Pareja had to tap Ryan Hollingshead to jump in instead.

Finishing Woes

In fairness, Dallas did create the chances they needed to get a different result out of this one. Dallas attempted 23 shots, but only saw six on target and six were blocked. That meant 11 (48%) of their shots missed the goal and from the chart below, it’s a little hard to believe.

FCD’s shot chart vs SJ

San Jose keeper Andrew Tarbell did come up big for them when he needed to, but Dallas was also incredibly wasteful and pushed their shots within saving range for Tarbell to come up with the heroics. Not to mention that Cristian Colman had two open headers that he completely missed the ball on.

Dominique Badji’s FCD debut can’t come soon enough.

Yes, it’s a bit presumptuous to think this is the start of another collapse, as last year’s match against the Whitecaps saw Dallas down a man by the 59th minute. But Dallas already down 2-0 at that point and showed no signs of recovering. But the fact remains that the 2017 and 2018 teams were both in this position and both teams were played off the pitch by an inferior opponent.

Pareja has said that this is a different team, different players and a group with a different mentality. But if Pareja and this team want the fans to believe anything different, they’ll actually need to show that on the field and do it quickly.