Everything has been a welcome change in Dallas this season. A refreshed attack, a home unbeaten streak, a healthy set of starters, a six point lead on the Western Conference, and shrewd offseason acquisitions (I’ve suddenly forgotten who Peter Luccin was) have all catapulted Frisco FC to new heights. None of these things were present last season, and if so, only for certain moments, and certainly not at the same time.
The first half in Vancouver went on with Dallas leading at half as it had in six of this season’s nine games. FCD even had another shutout in the first half, something which the team has achieved in every single match in 2013. All was well in the world, aside from the substitutions of Jacobson and John, both for injuries.
But road form, the specter that haunted FCD in 2012, continues to travel on the team bus in 2013, and has become a point of speculation for FCD’s critics. At the moment, those critics seem to be justified. The collapse at Vancouver was all the fodder needed to keep critics vocal, despite the team wounded, but still standing, atop the Western Conference. It’s not out of order to think that FCD escaped with a point alive. Yet, after the end of the first half, three moments defined the match:
1. The Injuries of Jacobson and John
Dallas’ depth was tested after the half, simply put. London Woodberry is a quality product, which is hardly disputed. But he is green, he is inexperienced at this level, and he is not George John. Was the defense perfect prior to John’s substitution? No, not really. George himself had moments of desperation trying to fend off Darren Mattocks in the six yard box. But the young Greek American is the light leading Dallas’ defense game in and out. His presence, just like in the Toronto match, will always be sorely missed.
Jacobson’s injury and following replacement by Watson (at the 41st minute) brought on a less-organized and tidy midfield from Dallas. JeVaughn still has yet to match Andrew’s defensive production. However, the Jamaican is a valuable replacement to have – he has the experience that Dallas in no way had in the center of midfield last year. But the void left in AJ’s absence simply wasn’t filled. Watson didn’t provide enough of a challenge (and meandered a bit) for Vancouver to stay in its 4-2-3-1 formation.
Martin Rennie pushed a forward on, taking a center midfielder off. Manneh’s (FW) substitution for Davidson (DMF) in the 54th minute was indicative of FCD letting off the attack, and marked the beginning of extreme pressure from the Whitecaps.
2. Vancouver’s Substitutions
Was Schellas out-managed in this match? Yes and no. Yes, he was: Manneh and Heinemann were the catalysts behind both Vancouver goals, and were placed tactically where they could and did do the most damage to FCD. Manneh, after all provided Vancouver’s first goal and assisted the second; Heinemann assisted Manneh on the first.
No, he was not out-managed given that two substitutions were made based upon injuries, and his hand was forced. If nothing else, the effectiveness of Vancouver’s substitutions simply outweighed those of FCD’s. It’s doubtful that Schellas could have deployed better replacements. Perhaps the introduction of Fabian Castillo was delayed too long, but that was
However, FCD was gassed by the time of Heinemann’s substitution in the 70th minute. From minutes 55 to 70, the Dallas bunker witnessed a shelling of 13 crosses and 7 shots, one of which was Manneh’s goal. Heinemann’s substitution only added fuel to the fire, and the fresh striker’s legs compounded the defensive woes already presented by Vancouver to the Dallas box. Overall, there may be a stronger case in Rennie’s favor.
3. Jackson’s Red Card
The ruling could have gone either way on this one. Jackson’s arm swung back as he was being concert-hugged by Rochat from behind, knocking Rochat in the face, with pushing and swearing (and gnashing of teeth) ensuing. By the 78th minute, Vancouver had tied the match and had begun rifling off a new volley of shots and crosses on the FCD goalmouth.
Jackson’s sending off put everything about the second half in a new perspective: Dallas needed to stay alive and get a point, not a win. Given the six more shots powered at Raul Fernandez (who, despite his spills late in the match, did play superbly) from the sending off to the game’s end, it’s safe to say Dallas was fortunate to come out with anything.
Errant red cards and MLS DisCo retrospective bans were a staple of FCD’s 2012 campaign. It seemed that the late capitulation, injuries to key starters, and a suspension all brought last year’s miseries back to life.
In the first nine matches of 2012 FCD dropped 9 points; 2013 has seen seven dropped. There has been improvement, no doubt. But the loss in Vancouver is emblematic of last year’s struggles that have yet to be solved.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)