Zach Loyd has earned two red cards in his career. Last night’s second yellow was deserved, albeit a bit oversold by Davy Arnaud on the foul beforehand. Regardless, the veteran defender’s slack first half play ultimately doomed Dallas in DC, despite a brilliant first half of attacking for the visitors. Michel’s card was, well, issued far after anything could be salvaged. Consequences of these two cards outweigh really any good, yet small, outcomes from FCD’s visit to the Capitol.
Scoring opened up with some brilliant play down the left flank from Fabian Castillo. Twisting, turning, stopping play, and breaking with pace, the young Columbian threaded a lobbed ball to a leaping Blas Perez, who knocked it down into the path of Mauro Diaz. “El Magico” capped a brilliant setup with an ever more brilliant feigned shot, sending DC’s defense sliding hopelessly in the opposite direction as he sidefooted a shot aside Bill Hamid. Was it the best team goal in the 2014 MLS season? Easily.
FCD was relentless in attack; the goal was the product. But they were sloppy in defense, awarding DC several opportunities around the perimeter of the penalty area, and fortunate that the hosts couldn’t capitalize. Loyd’s sending off was absolutely impactful, as it came just before the half and four minutes of added time. It was poorly timed to start, nowhere near the Dallas goal. Even his first yellow, which came in the 10th minute and seemed to be very soft, was a foul in the middle third. Yet, from the sending off onward it’s fairly easy to imagine how things went.
A few wrinkles emerged even after the ‘one man down and doomed’ storyline emerged. First, Mauro Diaz came off six minutes after Loyd’s sending off and five minutes before DC opened their account. Playing a man down, away from home, and with an entire 45 minutes to go the resulting loss is understandable and easier to stomach. Losing Diaz, however, if he does turn out to be injured, will be a bigger loss than the match. With low depth to replace “El Magico,” FCD will scramble for creativity in the future.
Where does Dallas go from here?
Praying for the health of Diaz would be a good start. His absence in the second half made a stale, 10 man FCD even more static. That does tell much about his worth to this team. Secondly, the result will posit new questions for Pareja in regards to rearranging the back line. Acosta is out with a minor injury. Loyd is suspended. Michel is suspended. Acosta’s health will play a major factor, shifting focus to Mo Hernandez, who saw time earlier this season in defense. Truth be told, the back line is still full of gaps and Dallas still has yet to keep a shutout this season, despite great success. Loyd’s injury exacerbates the problem to a point, but to be truthful, stunting the opposition hasn’t been a strong point whatsoever this year to begin with.
It’s back to the safe embrace of Toyota Stadium where Pareja will have to address a potential absence from Mauro and an unsolved situation at right back. Tactically he has managed to do well in hostile situations (with eleven on the field, mind you), take a point at Sporting Kansas City as an example. But Papi’s men shouldn’t have their confidence shattered by a 4-1 defeat. With a full strength side that game was imminently winnable – just as next weekend will be. Full points against the Red Bulls will be necessary as a lengthy road campaign awaits Dallas during the month of May.