And why not? FCD has every ability in the world to take large intervals of the game in terms of possession and chance creation even with a man down. After seeing the proof last Saturday against San Jose, the idea still remains ridiculous, but playing with ten has become a strange norm in Frisco.
“…And see if we can finally play another game with 11. That has been a little bit of a challenge,” recited Oscar Pareja in reaction to the loss against the Quakes.
The haze of red cards that has blanketed FC Dallas this season could not come at a worse time. Eight games into a winless skid, the team has the dubious achievements of earning more sending offs than wins, or shutouts for that matter.
At a time when the squad seems to become depleted through injury every other week, it’s easy to see how the disciplinary situation has exacerbated many problems. It’s not just that Mauro is still out, or George John for that matter, or even Hendry Thomas. Their absences require FCD to play even more perfect than before, and for Pareja to get the most of the squad he can currently play. Red cards only make an untenable situation worse.
“I refuse to train with 10. We need to see if on Saturdays we can have the discipline to finish with 11,” Pareja remarked after the loss at home to San Jose.
With consistent ejections that perfection is almost unreachable. I suppose the silver lining is that through experience FCD will be outstanding if the situation rears its head again. To be very honest Dallas was in the ascendency and pushing for goals just after Moffat’s sending off against San Jose. The Quakes, which may be a subtle compliment to FCD’s attacking ability, despite being up a man decided to park a few buses and throttle down after taking a 2-1 lead to 10 man FCD. So yes, it is possible for Pareja’s men to perfect the gauntlet that is playing a man down for an extended part of a match.
Intrigue surrounds tonight’s match against Colorado for two reasons. For one, the question of whether or not FCD can play a match with a full eleven, or snap their winless streak piques interest. And two, the return of a team that Pareja molded into his image over two seasons will face Pareja’s currently side in the early stages.
Now consider the run of form Colorado is experiencing. Mastroeni’s squad has mustered a three game unbeaten run, scoring seven and allowing a solitary goal in the process. Deshorn Brown’s return from Jamaican national team duty saw him net two goals and assist another against Houston.
But at least the Rapids will be dragging into Dallas after a midweek stalemate against Chicago. It was drudgery at its finest, but the match was at the most indicative of the consistency in the Rapids defense, who now have the most shutouts in MLS with seven.
Pareja will need all eleven men on the pitch tonight. Mastroeni had the convenience of resting quite a few starters midweek, including Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers, Chris Klute, and Dillon Serna. Brown, Powers, and Serna all came off the bench for a few minutes later in the second half, but they should be well rested entering tonight’s game.
As for FC Dallas no major injuries, aside from the long standing few, should impact Pareja’s chosen squad tonight. Adam Moffat will be on suspension, prompting the selection of Jacobson. But Victor Ulloa will continue to serve in Thomas’ stead (of which he has performed well without much flair or notoriety). FCD’s back line should remain largely the same with Hernandez gaining a second consecutive start at left back.
Even the situation in the attack should remain similar. Blas Perez, whose goal last week was nothing short of outstanding, repeatedly proves how dangerous he can be inside the penalty area. His work rate complimented by Akindele’s isn’t the perfect strike partnership, but the defensive work and pressing they both provide are essential to making the other moving parts of Pareja’s system move as they should.
Regardless, Dallas desperately needs to finish with a win and eleven men remaining on the pitch. These disciplinary issues are slowly resembling those of the last two seasons under Hyndman – both plagued with significant winless streaks through the midseason summer schedule.