Yeah, it has been a rough few weeks for FC Dallas. I won’t dance around that here. Instead of diving deep into last weekend’s game against Colorado today, I thought I would spend a little more time on a couple of areas that really worry me going into the international break after seven weeks of play.
Is some hope around the corner? Maybe, but the club has a lot of things that need to be addressed over the next couple of weeks.
Defensive woes and injuries
I think out of the gate what worries me the most right now is the club’s defense. First, it was back-to-back games with late goals given up that cost the team a valuable road point in Minnesota, followed by a late goal given up at home that would have given the team a win. But now, it may really come down to the discipline, depth, and injuries we’re seeing with this group.
I’ll start with the discipline issues here. Part of that is just how things go in MLS over the course of a season. An aggressive team will almost always attract cards. FC Dallas is in that boat right now with Bressan and Jose Martinez picking up cards on fouls that you kind of have to make at times. The more troubling part though continues to be the penalties given up. Seven games in and FCD is the league leaders in penalty kicks given up with four, twice more than the four clubs below them that are tied for second-most. Some are just silly mental mistakes too, others are just unfortunate. Either way, that kind of crap has to be worked out over the next couple of weeks.
The depth part is starting to also show its ugly head, mostly because of the injury issue. Look at the goalkeeper situation right now, all three senior team keepers are dealing with some sort of injury with Jimmy Maurer starting in the last two games, likely with some sort of injury. Add in Matt Hedges’ new hip injury to go with whatever it was he was dealing with earlier in the season, Nkosi Tarfari’s injury that has kept him sidelined, and it is beginning to feel real dicy at the moment in the back. When you have a discipline issue in the same area as a depth issue, those gaps go from pinholes to craters in a hurry.
I know we want another striker this summer to come in but it may be time to take a serious look at the defensive depth too.
Finishing continues to be an issue
Dallas is currently sixth in the league in shots on target. But unlike the other five above them in that category, they’re near the bottom third of the league in goals scored overall. All the chances Dallas has created too have come from inside the penalty box too. So what gives?
For a while this season it was a lack of service, but when you have a guy like Andres Ricaurte racking up eight key passes in a single game, it shows that those up top aren’t doing their jobs at finding the back of the net.
Yes, that means Franco Jara gets another jab thrown his way here. His team-high eight chances in the 3-0 loss to Colorado was painful to watch. He was in good spots, had good looks, and still failed to convert with one hitting the crossbar. Just like we saw when he arrived in 2020 when he is at his best, so is the team. But when he is off, everyone appears to be off. This is troubling when you consider that FC Dallas got by for years and years without a striker like this at their disposal. Long gone are the days of the team having a third of the roster with a goal to help pick up the slack when one player is having an off day or two. At least it feels that way.
Maybe that will change after the break when Jesus Ferreira is back and healthy. You can’t help but wonder what this season would be like right now had he not picked up that shoulder injury right before the first game of the season.
Right time and place for a break
We talk at times on this space about timing and being in the right time and place for things. Well, this break that will take us up to June 19 for the next game against Minnesota comes at absolutely the right time for FC Dallas. Not only does it give the players a few days off here to go on vacation with family and friends, but it gives head coach Luchi Gonzalez and his staff a chance to hit the reset button on this season again.
If anything, we need to come out of this break with a new attitude and look from this group. I’ve been calling for Paxton Pomykal to be a starter and after seeing him get 45 minutes off the bench in Colorado, I feel like the time is now for that to happen when Minnesota comes to town later this month. Give him 65 minutes against the Loons over a Freddy Vargas on the wings and see what happens. If Ferreira is healthy enough to go, let’s throw him into the mix as well over Jara (I know this is less likely for a number of reasons but still).
Maybe it is a look back at the 4-3-3 in some fashion as the other formations used this season just have yet to really spark this club. It was the 4-3-3 that provided the club their only win back at the beginning of the month against Portland. So there is something to be said there about that look for the club.
No matter what, if Luchi isn’t able to get this group back on the right track in June, the summer will be rough. June only has three games to deal with and two of those are at home. But July, man...July is rough folks. Six games. Four on the road with three of them coming clumped together in the middle of the month. If that momentum doesn’t get built in June, I’m worried it won’t get built in July.