The last three games have been rough, to say the least for FC Dallas. Losses in LA, Portland, and Colorado have added to the growing frustration for fans. Something have been positive (more on that in a second) but there have been more bad things than good.
Possibly more disappointing things than anything else. I’m starting to feel like a dad here, I’m not mad anymore at this club, I’m just feeling disappointed. Anyways, here are a few thoughts I’ve jotted down over the last couple of games as we await FCD’s return home this weekend against the LA Galaxy.
Youth stepping up more and more
I do want to get into some positives here as I am taking this chance to look back at the last three games a bit more. Let’s look at the last two in particular with how the club lined up with Paxton Pomykal and Ricardo Pepi on the wings with Jesus Ferreira in the middle of them and Edwin Cerrillo sitting behind them (and yes you can’t forget Justin Che in the defense).
I’m all for this kind of look even though I would rather see Pepi up top over Franco Jara at the moment. Pomykal was a difference-maker against Portland and Colorado at times, while Pepi was unlucky not to score a couple of times on his own. Then you have Ferreira and his ability to find these two in open space and behind the defense. It isn’t always pretty but there are plenty of magical moments that get you excited about this group again.
I’d also like to point out Cerrillo’s involvement as of late. Thanks to the departure of Bryan Acosta to the Gold Cup and Tanner Tessmann being sold off to an Italian club, Cerrillo was going to need to step up and prove himself in an MLS uniform again. He’s done well enough with North Texas SC over the last couple of seasons but I’ve often wondered if he truly has what it takes to be an MLS-level player. Maybe he is destined for something like the USL Championship, but these last two games do have me reconsidering that again. He’s not flashy in the midfield but he also isn’t being tasked with that kind of role. He’s protecting the defense at times and has done enough to link up with Ferreira up the field. It is a small sample for this season but I do think there is progress there for him.
Set pieces are the Achilles’ heel
FC Dallas has given up four goals from corner kicks, all mostly coming in the last month of play too. Last night in Colorado, last week in LA, and before that at home against Vancouver. All are given up on the corner in ways that seem simple enough to correct.
On one hand, you could point to how not having a Matt Hedges or a Jose Martinez is part of the issue. I think the other part is the lack of height the club has on the field at times is part of the issue as well (again, no Hedges or Martinez really does shrink the overall height down a bit).
But like everything going on right now with this club, the other part maybe just on the mental side of things. You can train and practice set pieces all day long but when the chips are down, and they are certainly down for this group right now, all of that training does appear to fly out of the window.
The confidence this group appears to have on set pieces right now just seems gone.
Road woes continue to mount for Luchi
Let’s look at the facts here. Luchi Gonzalez has won four games on the road in his three-ish years in charge of FC Dallas. Three of those four games were in 2019, his first year in charge. In a way, I want to throw out the losses on the road in 2020 since that entire year feels like a total wash, but with 23 road losses and seven of those coming this season, you can’t help but wonder if this is going to be the thing that does Luchi in with this club.
MLS can be a pretty forgiving league at times but given how it is evolving year to year, that forgiving nature is starting to dwindle a bit. We’re seeing teams around the league already take the leap and make coaching changes at this point in the season. Grant it, those teams (Toronto and Atlanta) were in much worse shape than FCD is at the moment.
The fact remains, anything can happen. We know the Hunts like Luchi enough and believe he is the right guy in charge. But the missed opportunities both home and away this season are really starting to add up. They know that. We certainly know that.