Given the recent successes of Hyndman’s sides at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the past two seasons, a victory in Denver was not out of the question. David Ferreira’s early second half finish – a solid one that was built up with solid combinations down the left flank – should have been an opening of the flood gates against Oscar Pareja’s Rapids.
Despite the slow, turgid start to the Dallas attack, which managed two shots the entire first half, the second half opened with a relentless attack from FCD. This is the same aggressiveness and ambition in the attacking third that saw the side knock three past Vancouver. Ferreira’s strike in the 51st minute left a scent of blood in the water and reason enough for FCD to pour numbers forward at the Rapids.
Maybe it was the fact that FCD hasn’t actually been the first to take a lead in a match in over a month. That could possibly explain the lack of cohesion defensively and drive to maintain that lead within the first ten minutes of getting it. Vicente’s goal, moments after Ferreira’s finish, sent Dallas back to the drawing board. Hedges’ own goal only six minutes later compounded woes.
Schellas Hyndman went out on a limb in a press conference for once after the match, a rarity few of us have seen. The 2-1 loss in Denver was much harder to stomach, not because of the lost lead or the fact that it was to a conference rival.
“If you look at your records from the last two games that we played, the comments that came out of Oscar Pareja was ‘We out played them. We should have won.’ Today, I’ll take his quote. ”We outplayed them. We should have won.”
Defensively, the midfield was as active as ever, and stunted the Rapids’ possession, forcing many turnovers in the middle third of the pitch. This was especially true in the second half. With Dallas’ defense and midfield thrown into a joint effort to frustrate Colorado, the second half opened up in favor for Dallas.
FCD’s new found faith in attack in the second half was a product of their first half defensive efforts. They merely had to win the second half against and already aggravated Rapids squad that had endeavored to score early on and came up empty-handed. Given the offensive force displayed in the second half for Dallas: ten shots (13 total), 24 total crosses (dead ball and open play), and a lion’s share of the possession turned the tables on FCD, giving them a taste of the Rapids’ first half frustration.
”We outplayed them. We should have won.”
It is hopefully a quote Hyndman will not have to reiterate down the stretch. If Dallas can piece together a 90 minute performance resembling their second half performance in Denver, he can stay fairly mum on the subject for the rest of 2013.
Looking forward, things will not get easier. FCD is away to New York, home to Columbus, away to RSL, home to Chicago, home to Seattle, and away to San Jose to round out the year. Save possibly San Jose, every team has a vested interest to make the playoffs and a valid chance at doing so.
Let’s take a look at FCD’s conference rivals that will be fighting for a playoff spot. Points as of 9/17 are in parentheses, and the remaining schedule follows:
Colorado (45 pts): POR-A, SEA-H, SJ-A, VAN-H, VAN-A
Los Angeles (44 pts): SEA-H, POR-A, CHV-H, MTL-H, SJ-H, SEA-A
Portland (43 pts): COL-H, LA-H, VAN-A, SEA-H, RSL-H, CHV-A
Dallas (40 pts): NY-A, H-CLB, RSL-A, CHI-H, SEA-H, SJ-A
Vancouver (38 pts):MTL-A, RSL-H, POR-H, SEA-A, COL-A, COL-H
San Jose (38 pts): RSL-A, CHV-A, COL-H, LA-A, DAL-H
Colorado and San Jose have the distinct disadvantage of having only five games left. Both face more away matches (3) than home in those remaining five. Portland has the most amount of home matches and the least convoluted schedule. Los Angeles, while having a fairly friendly schedule, will split its efforts between MLS and CCL action down the stretch, featuring two extra games. San Jose has the same fate.
Week 32 will be the most telling of all: every team in the playoff hunt, except Dallas, will play a conference opponent. Every team except San Jose will play another side in the top half of the Western Conference table as well. Portland, arguably, have a more favorable schedule given their four home fixtures, 43 points, and lack of CCL commitments. Unfortunately for Dallas, there are no six-pointers left, save maybe San Jose, and possibly Seattle before then, depending on the Sounders’ form in the next three matches.
Let’s at least pray that Hyndman will not have to drop another “We should have won” line yet again for the remainder of 2013.