Normally the annual 4th of July game for FC Dallas is a lot of fun. Its typically a day filled with drinking, tailgating, cooking out, fireworks (sometimes a lot of them when there are goals) and just overall fun.
Yesterday was sort of that. Yes, all the items were there that I listed above but there was yet again more disappointment on the field by FC Dallas as they barely escaped with a 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps. A team, that was below them in the standings coming into this one and thankfully is still there today.
I jotted down some notes and have finally taken the time to get them out to you now that I have recovered from sitting in the Toyota Stadium parking lot for nearly two hours to get home last night (not sure what the hell Frisco PD was doing with their traffic directions but it was pretty rough for those in the Gold Lot where the media parks).
Mental errors cause a total shutdown
I’m going to have to go from bad to good here on the night, mainly because there was more on the bad side than the good. But really, the final 15 or so minutes of the first half was yet another example of just how poorly this season is going for the club.
I don’t know if it was the team that had begun hitting their autopilot button after scoring the opening goal (more on that in a bit) or if it truly came down to just a bad blunder in the back. Let’s just go to the tape here and break it down a bit.
First, the turnover in the midfield. Facundo Quignon coughs up the ball in possibly the worst place you could do so that helps set up a Vancouver counterattack. For the first time in this game, you actually see the Caps go at full speed and boy did they make the most of this. You think that FCD is going to get bailed out by Jimmy Maurer here (because that is what Jimmy has done all year) but he’s not able to after he watches Bressan flub on the ball in front of a really talented striker in Lucas Cavallini.
It seems from that moment until the halftime whistle, FC Dallas was playing to get to the locker room while Vancouver saw an opening. In the final seconds of the half, they pounced again on a set-piece, something that FC Dallas is just awful at this season (on both ends mind you).
Young players showing growing pains
Look, I’m all for the young guys getting their minutes here this season but last night kind of showed just how desperate the club needs some veteran players to really step up when moments get tough.
Justin Che had a couple of awkward passes, including a really weird (at least from the press box angle) header back that went out of play for the corner kick that leads to Vancouver’s second goal. As good as he looked on paper (90% rate, up from 72% in the previous start; four interceptions, up three from the previous start), you could tell Vancouver wanted to start his side more to force the young defender into trouble. His duel percentage speaks to that as he only won 20% of his duels last night.
Dante Sealy also got minutes off the bench but he looked a bit lost out on the wings at times. He found space but didn’t seem to know what to do with it when he was able to get the ball on his feet to drive at defenders.
Nkosi Tafari continues to get a start in the center of the defense as FCD deals with injuries to both Matt Hedges and now Jose Martinez. His passing at times is superb but there are decision-making issues that pop up and make you really question whether or not he would even come close to the starting lineup if everyone were healthy (I think we all know the answer there too).
I know a lot of pressure gets placed on these young guys to perform. Hopefully, these are all minor bumps along the way that we see worked out.
Jesus + Pepi = fun
Let’s just begin with this stat:
Ricardo Pepi has been over 3 times more productive when he is on the field with Jesus Ferreira.— American Soccer Express (@USMNTExpress) July 5, 2021
Pepi Without Ferreira:
209 minutes, 1 goal (0.43 G/90)
Pepi With Ferreira:
263 minutes, 4 goals (1.37 G/90) - 2 of the 4 assisted by Ferreira
It's good to have Jesus back.
The eye-ball test told me last night that these two together are miles better than these two apart. The energy that Ferreria has brought to things since his return from injury has been nothing short of fun to watch. He did appear to hit a fitness wall last night around the 65th minute or so, which lead to his substitution late in the game.
For Pepi, the fourth goal in four games is just nothing short of amazing to see happen here. The kid just finds space and scores in the penalty box. We’ve been dying for a guy like this for ages now and he here folks, here’s here.
I know this all leads folks (including myself) to ask the big ‘what if’ questions. What if Pepi had gotten starts in April and May instead of Franco Jara? What if Ferreria hadn’t picked up a shoulder injury before the start of the season? Yeah, those are easily the two biggest questions facing this team at the moment in the ‘what if’ department. We don’t truly know if the team would be better than they are now but maybe.
Either way, we need this fun ride to continue here as the club is about to be on the road for five of the next six games. So far FCD is winless away from home. No draws. No wins. Just all losses when they’ve taken this show on the road. As much as we need veterans to step up, we also need more of the Pepi-Ferreira magic to continue.