Tonight at 9 PM CST/10 PM EST, Big D After Dark, our official video podcast, is live on Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about a rollercoaster week at home and away for FC Dallas. Our boys in Frisco professionally handled the visiting Philadelphia Union with a 1-0 win that shows that this team has the ability to compete with the best of the best. But against Nashville in the Music City without Jesus Ferreira, the performance was poor, a 4-0 drubbing that has us scratching our heads.
Here are a few of the topics we will discuss tonight.
Take One: FC Dallas fans should be pleased that this team is still in contention for a home playoff game.
Under a first-year head coach and after the departure of some mainstays, the ceiling for Dallas this season seemed realistic - getting back to the playoffs. Head Coach Nico Estevez has had his team carve out a much improved away record which has balanced some uneven home form. Ultimately, it means Dallas is in the thick of things in the Western Conference and has looked excellent in many games.
But that doesn’t shy away from the fact that FC Dallas lacks a lot of things that a true contender needs including depth pieces to help them get through tough games, additional bodies in key positions, and stronger play from some of the youngsters.
Depending on their late-season form, FC Dallas could lock down a home playoff spot or drift down toward the cutoff line.
Ultimately though, we fans should be excited about how this first season under coach Nico Estevez has been going because the hope is that it will only get better as the roster continues to develop with another transfer window or two and the organization builds with clarity around Nico’s vision for the future for this team.
Take Two: Every Major League Soccer team has these stinker games where things just don’t go right.
It’s never a reason to panic, even if it is painful to watch as a fan.
During the home game against Philadelphia, Mark Followill and Steve Davis talked about Philly’s shocking defeat at FC Cincinnati, an outlier for a normally dominant squad. Montreal just crushed New England. Philadelphia rebounded from the loss in Frisco to demolish DC United, 6-0. Part of the gift of parity is that these things happen as legs get tired, as the drop-off in roster bench depth shows, and as the grueling nature of travel in this league takes its toll.
Let’s hope that this is the last of its kind that FC Dallas experiences this summer, as they no longer have any of these dense midweek matchups on their calendar.
Take Three: This week showed us the best of Dallas and the worst of Dallas.
I have no doubt that tired legs played a part in the slow start against Nashville. For 90+ minutes, Dallas won a quintessential soccer game against the Union, grabbing the one goal they needed and playing sound defense to deny Philly anything further. It was vintage stuff, and many playoff games carry that kind of intensity and strategy. In retrospect, Nico might have rotated players a bit more considering the energy they exuded on Wednesday, but hey, hindsight is 20/20.
What hurt Dallas at Nashville was the lack of a legitimate striker to spell Jesus Ferreira. Franco Jara may be able to poach a goal for the team every so often, but he just doesn’t have the speed or energy to run with Arriola or Velasco. If nothing else, this was a game that put a bow on his disappointing time with FC Dallas.
But the youth was mighty disappointing too. Sure, Martin Paes could have done better one or two of those goals given up, but Edwin Cerrillo and Tsiki Tsabeleng struggled in the first half. I don’t want to belabor this, because no one really played well for Dallas - but the team needed a spark off the bench. They lacked that too. Redzic got the most minutes in a match in his early career and didn’t do much. This would have been a perfect game for a younger player to step up with a crucial performance.
The team missed Jesus Ferreira a lot, and if he ends up going down for an extended period of time or misses another match due to yellow card accumulation, things look weak for FC Dallas.
Thankfully, the team can put this one behind them and get healthy and ready for another home match this weekend.