Kenny Cooper sprinted off the bench and into the FC Dallas net with his first touch Wednesday night. It’s compelling theater, and almost as compelling as the comedy of errors that led to it. The former FCD front man’s strike left Dallas without a point to take home to Frisco after taking the lead in the first half. Three points were dropped and Seattle continued its blistering form. End of story.
In the most this-glass-is-half-full light, FCD performed very well lacking starters in four positions and in a formation to which they have rarely switched in 2014. This may be as much of the beginning of a transition into the next three months without Diaz more than anything, and is bound to be filled with perils and bumps down the road.
Not to mention that Seattle is a place in which any quality MLS sides struggle greatly to win. Maybe the loss is more palatable, given these circumstances. Despite the circumstance, Matt Hedges had an outstanding look inside the penalty area at the death from a Michel cross. At least it signified some persistence and mettle still within the squad. A lost lead, still, never sits well.
These Sheets Aren’t Clean, and Won’t Be For a While
It’s radical expectation for anyone to expect Dallas to keep a clean sheet. For one, recent history (that is the ENTIRE 2014 season), furthers the idea: Pareja’s side hasn’t kept an opponent scoreless yet. A few things factor into this.
For one, the style Pareja has imbued upon his squad requires pressing up field, and throwing great numbers forward when the ball is in possession. It’s great attacking but filled with opportunities for the opposition, especially on the counter. High pressing wings leave lots of space behind them. Think about Montreal’s first goal in the home opener. It’s the epitome of what types of transitions in play can happen against Pareja’s 4-3-3.
Finally, Papi’s defense can’t be downed even by arguments regarding FCD’s prior defensive prowess. Comparatively, FCD had seven clean sheets under Hyndman last season, whereas Pareja kept ten total in Colorado. Given a healthy defense he can make decent use of it. A point at which, however, George John, Matt Hedges, Kellyn Acosta, and Benitez all take the field simultaneously may be more of a distant dream every day. Acosta’s surgery and John’s recovery certainly hamper things.
Let’s also keep in mind the nature of both Seattle goals. The first was created with Blas’s loss of possession at the midfield line, leaving the Panamanian begging for an unwarranted foul and leaving the Dallas midfield ball watching. Loyd lost his Lamar Neagle in a sea pond of bodies in the penalty area and he ended up on the business end of Martins’ cross. The second Seattle goal found both Benitez and Loyd guilty, one losing Martins on the flank, and the other losing Kenny Cooper in the box. It’s not that Dallas’ defense has been abject all year – it was exceptionally abject last night.
Danny Boy, the Pipes Are Calling
He will not receive the plaudits and resounding gasps from stadiums around the US like Mauro Diaz. To think FC Dallas has another Mauro waiting in the wings is unthinkable and unreasonable. But Danny Garcia, the academy product chosen to fill Diaz’s shoes, has proven his worth in a very short time.
Needless to say this chance wouldn’t have come under Schellas Hyndman, who was notorious for neglecting his homegrown products. However, Garcia is hard to ignore. A USMNT U-20 pool player he has proven himself at that level and is now doing the same in MLS.
He is intelligent, aggressive, plays his role well, and does so with a dash of flair, but with sound instincts. There is nothing reckless about his play – it is thoughtful and plays into Pareja’s system extremely well. Given the fact that Mauro is out for up to 10 weeks a more than perfect opportunity has landed in his lap to develop. So far, he is a faithful deputy and great executor of Pareja’s demands.
Onward to Northern California
Fortunately for FCD they will come against a fellow spirit in suffering over the weekend. San Jose has only won a solitary game this MLS campaign, that coming against Chivas USA at home two weeks ago. Had last night’s result gone in favor of the Texans even a draw away to San Jose would be understandable. Four points on the biggest road trip to date against conference opponents would have been excellent. However, three points are necessary given the capitulation at Century Link, and FCD will need to do this with the same bodies absent.
At least Raul Fernandez will be back between the sticks, or at least should be, at Buck Shaw stadium Saturday evening. How amazing was his double save on Alonso and Dempsey in the 68th minute? At least the gaps in FCD’s defense can be plugged by heroic efforts on the goal line.