Hopefully you’re not still one of the 4.5%, 4.6%, 4.2%, or .8% of MLS Fantasy Soccer participants who still has David Ferreira, Jackson, Kenny Cooper, or even Fabian Castillo still in your lineup. For that matter, FCD didn’t even land a single shot on goal against Seattle last week. It’s almost been as difficult holding Michel or Raul Fernandez, given the fact that along with goals, shutouts have also dried up in the past five matches.
The spoils have been split to the home team in the previous two matches in the three match series. In fact the first match in the series was LA’s first loss of 2013 and featured the now infamous aluminum beer incident (also the last time aluminum beers were seen in the FC Dallas beer garden). But it also featured a wild game, with a Leonardo sending off, two penalty misses (Cooper and Donovan), plus the late match winner from George John in the 87th minute.
It was a statement match: Dallas was in the ascendancy, LA had legitimate contenders. The response came in the form of a 2-0 drubbing in Southern California a month ago in which FCD was out-shot, out-possessed, and out-muscled throughout the pitch. The Galaxy was also without Landon Donovan.
Fast-forward to the present. Five matches out of nine haven’t fallen positively for Dallas. The past five matches have been a major offense to the prestigious beginnings to the 2013 season, if nothing else. Spirit, a bit of luck, and sound performances were a regular sight during that fabled era that ended during the summer. Tonight, FC Dallas faces champions Los Angeles, looking to put an end to a nine game winless streak. As Taylor Twellman put it today on Twitter, “Something has to give.”
What of the Champions?
Bruce Arena’s side hasn’t won a road match, if you consider it a road match, since a victory at Chivas USA on June 23. Otherwise, their 3-8-1 away record is nearly as dismal as Dallas’ 1-5-5 away record, and has been a cause for concern in Southern California for all of 2013. They have been on a two-week hiatus from MLS action, partaking in the Guinness International Champions Cup against the likes of AC Milan et al the past week and a half.
Paralleling Dallas’ 0-4-5 record over nine matches to the Galaxy, it is evident that their 4-4-1 record is better (anything really is), but nothing to write home about. They have been as outstanding as they have been average, if not worse. Furthermore, to reiterate, the Galaxy have been 1-3-0 away from Los Angeles during the past nine matches.
The Galaxy put together a comprehensive performance against FCD in early July, and could very well do the same tonight. A full strength squad will help their cause.
Making an Additional Statement
If nothing else the last nine matches have displayed the demands of maintaining primacy in MLS to FC Dallas. It has been humbling and nearly the worst winless streak (club record is 13) in franchise history. The midfield has been uncreative and stagnant, and the off-on presence of Blas Perez in the lineup has stifled what firepower existed prior to June 1st, when the streak began. When the forwards Blas, Cooper, or Hassli hadn’t produced there had been ample attacking from the midfield, which has somehow run dry. Chances now are limited. The team is not only being shut out, they are being kept from putting anything on target worth worrying the opposition keeper.
Furthermore, teams have slowly figured out that defending set pieces against FCD isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, Dallas hasn’t lost yet this season when they’ve scored off a set piece. That’s a huge testament to the execution of free kicks, corners, and the like to Schellas Hyndman and his team. But it’s also a signal to opposing teams that eliminating these chances and not committing fouls in your own half may be the ticket to at least a point against a once-strong side.
There has to be a time to reverse the second worst winless streak in team history, and any home game, such as tonight, is the perfect environment for it. The 450 minutes that have passed since FCD’s last goal (against Philadelphia), 21% shooting accuracy in the past five shutouts, and dismal offensive performances could easily become a fading memory by beating Los Angeles tonight.
Looking forward, this could be an outstanding chance to see where Mauro Diaz can make an impact, or even see the debut of Erick in the center of midfield. Dallas could use a physical presence, even if just briefly, or even if there is a lead to lose towards the end of the match. But it seems like a new injection of outside talent and new ideas could help stifle the general malaise that has crept over Dallas since summer began.
FC Dallas: 4-2-3-1: Fernandez; Loyd, John, Hedges, Benitez; Michel, Jacobson; Cooper, Ferreira, Castillo; Perez
LA Galaxy: 4-4-2: Cudicini; Dunivant, DeLaGarza, Gonzalez, Franklin; Rogers, Sarvas, Juninho, Donovan; Keane, Zardes