After two straight wins and an era of good feeling surrounding FC Dallas the past couple of weeks, things are now a little bit dicey in Frisco after an earned, but slightly disappointing draw at Vancouver on Sunday.
Things started out in almost disastrous fashion for the Hoops as the back four allowed Whitecaps forward Darren Mattocks in behind for an easy opening goal; however, the rest of the half would be in FC Dallas’ favor. In the 29th minute, Blas Perez took advantage of a scrum in front of the goal to draw FC Dallas level at one. Ten minutes later, disastrous defending for Vancouver led to a handball in the penalty area gave the Hoops a penalty kick which Michel easily slotted home to give the visitors the lead at the half.
But in the second half, FC Dallas would give that lead back with its own handball in the box for a penalty kick. Pedro Morales easily slotted that home to level the game once again and then Vancouver went on the attack. FC Dallas goal keeper Raul Fernandez had to make save after save to keep it at a draw.
While a point on the road is fine, it has put FC Dallas in a bit of a difficult spot in the standings.
Currently, the Hoops technically sit in fifth place in the Western Conference–the final playoff spot–with 30 points after playing 21 matches this season, though they are tied for third. In one week, they’ve gone from tied second to one the edge of a postseason berth. Above them are the Los Angeles Galaxy and Colorado Rapids also on 30 points, though the Galaxy have three games in hand over both FC Dallas and Colorado, and Real Salt Lake in second with 33 points. Below them are Vancouver on 29 points and the Portland Timbers on 27 points.
So the goal now for FC Dallas heading into August is to not let this one difficult match snowball into another late-summer swoon that has plagued the team the past couple of seasons.
There are some good signs that that won’t happen this season though. First off, the Hoops have a different coach from those past disappointing season. Oscar Pareja has done a great job turning the club around and keeping them afloat through all of the injuries they’ve had this season. While there was a stretch where FC Dallas failed to win a match, he’s kept the team going and kept that from sinking their season.
Also, FC Dallas has great depth, especially at attacking positions. While Perez and Fabian Castillo are likely the most noticeable names on the squad, others like Andres Escobar, Mauro Diaz and Tesho Akindele have emerged as tremendous assets. Akindele has been the biggest surprise. Coming out of an NCAA Division II school, Akindele was forced into the lineup with all of the injuries the team had and has become one of the bright young stars in the league. He scored in back-to-back matches against Philadelphia and New England and has also been a big part of the build up for other goals as well. And he gives them one more out of many options for goal scoring.
Of course, the Hoops aren’t the best team in the league and are likely a little bit far from being serious MLS Cup and Supporter’s Shield contenders. The defense still needs some help which hopefully will come in the summer transfer window.
Still, FC Dallas is in a bit of a precarious situation right on the edge of a playoff spot. And it will be up to them to not let the draw on Sunday lead to another summer swoon.