FC Dallas has not had a good weekend. Not only were they lambasted by a sputter New York Red Bulls, who now look set to make a run for glory, but they are also going to be without captain Matt Hedges for 4-6 weeks, as he has undergone surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Given the result against the Red Bulls, this is probably the worst piece of news that Dallas could have received. Dallas had a rotated defense against the Red Bulls, as both starting center backs, Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman, were missing.
The result speaks for itself. Dallas’ defense was incapable of stifling a hungry front four for the New York Red Bulls. Dallas is now tied for the most goals surrendered in MLS (17) with who else but the team that thrashed them by four goals.
While it’s hard to look at the rotated defense and completely blame them, it’s safe to say that it didn’t help. Dallas used their starting defense when they were crushed by cross-state rivals Houston Dynamo, but against Vancouver, they’re other blowout, they were without Hedges as well.
That means that two of their three massive implosions were without their captain and defensive centerpiece.
Dallas’ fill-in, Zach Lloyd, has been less than effective in covering for Hedges.
This puts Dallas in a pickle. they have given up seven goals in their last two games and it has been without Hedges. That has to be more than a coincidence. The Hedges and Zimmerman partnership has only surrendered a respectable ten goals this year. That is a much more convincing number than seeing a team still in first place with a -2 goal differential. By time all the teams have played equal games, however, Dallas could fall as low as fifth in the West.
The other somewhat strange recurrence is 20 year old keeper Jesse Gonzalez, who was present for both the Houston blowout and now the New York blowout. Both times there were communication problems and the youngster looked less than impressive. However, the more convincing recurrence is definitely Hedges’ absence.
This is a dicey situation for Dallas. If the trend is to be believed, the lynch pin of this defense is now removed from an already shaky back four. They’re proneness to implosions may become even more of a problem. The best coping mechanism they can possibly enlist is to overload the offense. They need Mauro Diaz and the athletic front four to offset a potentially catastrophic defensive situation.
Dallas haven’t been helped by their lack of off-days, but these blowouts are not the result of that alone. They need Hedges in this defense. It will be interesting to see what position they can cling to in the standings without him.