It was a disappointing and surprising defeat Saturday night. FC Dallas fell at home to the last place San Jose Earthquakes. While Dallas’ position atop the Western Conference remains unchanged, it is likely that team morale is different. How will this weekend’s result shape the season?
Pattern or self fulfilling prophecy?
I called the result surprising, but is it really? Under-performing, choking, whatever you want to call this result, isn’t anything new for Dallas. Perhaps it’s because expectations are always so high that anytime Dallas loses it’s a minor tragedy. But is this the result of a weak mentality? Is there some sort of unnamed disease that affects Oscar Pareja’s locker room that means that results like this will always happen? One might call it the lack to of a “killer mentality.”
While that would make for a nice rant, I don’t believe it’s true. I cringe when I chalk this game up to being a fluke (one more “fluke” in a long history of “flukes”), but I can’t argue that this team doesn’t get results. They’re still in first place in the West, that should be the end of discussion. While it would be nice to win all the games you’re supposed to win, no team does it. MLS is a weird league. To win the Supporters’ Shield you only have to be consistent enough and to win the MLS Cup you only have to be hot for a month or two.
It’s easy get upset and overreact about results like this, but you have to remember that since Pareja took over his post as head coach for FC Dallas they have been an elite team in this league, largely powered by homegrowns and small budget acquisitions from South America. As a fan you have to take the good with the bad, and this season (despite a frequently questionable on-field product) the results have been mostly good.
Come back, Badji
Now that Dominque Badji has returned from getting his green card and Maxi Urruti has run my patience thin once again, let’s see him get a run of games. While Pareja is traditionally slow to work new players into the team, Marquinhos Pedroso’s quick inclusion into the lineup may be a sign that he is willing to make exceptions if the team is in dire need. And this team is in dire need of a striker.
I’m big on Badji mostly because Maxi’s positioning and decision making is killing me. I could also write a whole article about how mystifyingly bad Cristian Colman is, but it would just make me sad for him. So unless Pareja is going to start putting Jesus Ferreira into the mix, let’s see Badji. He should offer the more traditional striker positioning that Colman offers, but with substantially less ineptitude.
It sucks to bench Maxi because his defensive work rate has been more phenomenal than usual lately, but he hasn’t scored since May and that’s inexcusable.
Who would have thought that after spending all of last season begging for Papi to play Reggie Cannon, he’s been run ragged with playing time this year. Cannon was unable to finish Saturday’s game with an aggravated hamstring.
Cannon at age 20, has led the team in minutes. If Pareja is riding a 20 year old so hard that he’s saying he’s fatigued in interviews, you have to start worrying that injuries may soon begin popping up in the squad. It’s about that time of the year and Pareja is historically bad with player rotation and management. If Cannon is feeling it, then the older guys in the squad like Matt Hedges and Victor Ulloa have to be feeling it even worse. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a heavily rotated squad against Seattle. Which is worrying because Dallas need a string of good results now more than ever to solidify their shot in the Supporter’s Shield race