Few teams can boast the same kind of overall ability as FC Dallas. They have such strength in depth that Mauro Diaz’s absence has hardly dented the potency of this team (except for Vancouver… which I will get to in a bit). Between Urruti, Gruezo, Castillo, Barrios and more, the athleticism is impossible for opposing defenses to reign in.
However, on those rare occasions where they are reigned in, there is disaster – full-fledged disaster. When you look at FC Dallas in the standings, you will see them atop the West, with a healthy 15 goals scored but a rather putrid 13 goals against. Only three goals separate them and cross-state/bottom-feeding Houston Dynamo.
It’s all because of Dallas’ two losses, which went down with an aggregate score of 8-0. That will ruin anyone’s goal differential.
At the beginning of the year, the loss to Houston was pegged as a byproduct of the youth on Dallas and the inexperience. That looks to be spot on, and we are getting even better reads as to what that inexperience leads to: Frustrations. That could be frustrations from not being able to score, from mistakes, or something else entirely.
The frustrations build and disaster befalls them. Rinse and repeat. It’s happened twice now for FC Dallas’ only two losses. They have far too much talent and athleticism to get beat outright, from open play. It just doesn’t happen. But they have shown a peculiar weakness to outright disasters. Own goals, set pieces and counter strikes have been proven to down FC Dallas, but a lot has to go right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) for these things to work.
For starters, FC Dallas’ has to be denied that opening goal. Once they get rolling, there is little that can get in their way. There are two ways that teams can counter this, both ways have been displayed this year by Houston and Vancouver. Houston scored so quick that Dallas barely had time to open their eyes. From there, it was a complete mental collapse.
Vancouver beat them with fortune (another own goal), followed it with a set piece goal, and closed it out with a counter when Dallas was getting desperate. But Vancouver also beat them by denying them (sometimes rather fortunately) on many clear-cut opportunities for the first half hour.
Which leads to that key part of the ‘defeat Dallas’ recipe – frustrations. Dallas has to be frustrated and flustered and clawing at a goal to get beaten. If they are allowed to sit in their grove, there is no stopping them – as mentioned, they have too much athleticism and ability.