FC Dallas fell to Sporting Kansas City 3-0 Sunday in a difficult defeat at home. The team dropped to third in the Western Conference standings and is at risk of falling further, should results go against it on Decision Day. However, with a win, the team earns a bye, avoiding the knockout stage of the playoffs and resting while the other teams playing midweek. After the devastating defeat, Pro Soccer USA spoke to Dallas Morning News reporter Jon Arnold and FC Dallas color commentator Steve Davis for a roundtable discussion on the defeat.
Q: What are your overall thoughts on how the match went?
Arman Kafai, ProSoccer USA: “It was one of those matches where early on, you thought Dallas was playing very well. The team was creating and had a clear-cut chance with Dominique Badji’s miss. Michael Barrios was getting the best of Ike Opara and Seth Sinovic multiple times, and you thought a breakthrough was coming. There were a couple of clumsy plays, such as Hedges’ penalty, but overall it wasn’t a bad performance. Then SKC’s goal came and [Tim] Melia saved Reto Ziegler’s penalty. That’s when it went downhill. Dallas wasn’t creating as much and was attempting to force things. After that second goal, it was done and dusted. Pareja didn’t make an adjustment until he needed to, and it showed on the pitch. SKC has consistently been a good team and genuinely showed they wanted the win.”
Jon Arnold, Dallas Morning News: “Poorly. Oscar Pareja enjoyed how his team functioned in the first half, but I’m more inclined to agree with Reto Ziegler, who pointed out that not only did FCD concede but it also gave up a penalty that could’ve meant a 2-0 gap going into the break. Maybe there were chances created, but there also were defensive worries exposed that perhaps haven’t been seen for most of the season.”
Steve Davis, FC Dallas Color Commentator: “I don’t actually think FC Dallas was that bad. Now, they weren’t particularly good. It was a case of being OK and not taking their chances against a team that played with purpose and intent – and a team that did take its chances. I’ve also said all season that Dallas plays with small margins for error. This isn’t Atlanta, where any time out on the field is a potential blowout; rather, FCD grinds out results. Translation: small margins. So when they create 3-4 good scoring chances but don’t convert, and when they make a couple of defensive mistakes, there’s not a lot there to rescue the day.”
Q: In your mind, what was the biggest concern coming out of the match?
JA: “The finishing is obviously a problem, but I was more concerned by the fact that the team totally fell apart mentally in the second half. The team functioning better than the sum of its parts has been critical to FCD being relevant in the West this season and to see that fall away is a worry.”
SD: “It’s got to be the overall attack, right? I mean, one goal from the run of play in six matches? Shut out four times over those six matches? Not good! They desperately need someone in the front four to kick it up a notch (or three)! Barrios, Urruti or Mosquera. Or Dom Badji, I suppose, but I’m not even certain Pareja will stick with Badji at striker. I thought he was a little more active, aggressive and assertive the other day, but only just a little.”
AK: Has to be the attack. Badji’s miss was really disheartening, especially after the effort from Barrios. I’m not sure the idea of Maxi Urruti in the playmaker role is the best idea. He is a hard worker and you want him on the pitch, but it’s a trade-off. Urruti isn’t a natural No. 10, so he won’t get into the same positions to help link play or be in the right spot. When is it time to see Pablo Aranguiz and his creativity? Badji has been struggling. I’d argue shifting Urruti up top and inserting Aranguiz into the lineup is a better option. Urruti will press and drift deep, but that’s the opportunity cost you’re going to have to give for your best forward.”
Q: What is your outlook on the team going into the Colorado match?
SD: “Dallas has been average over the second half of the season (not coincidentally, after Mauro Diaz left, taking the team’s one offensive ‘difference maker’ away.) But even average should be enough to get a result over down-and-out Colorado. They go from playing a team with a +24 goal difference (SKC) to one with a -28 GD. Quite a swing, eh? Colorado can’t score and can’t defend. A draw is all Dallas needs to secure a home game in the knockout round, at least. And history has shown it’s not a lot harder to advance through the playoffs from the 3 or 4 position as compared to the 1 or 2. I like FCD’s chances of getting the draw, at very least, and give Pareja’s club a fair-to-good chance of getting the win.”
AK: “Must win. Colorado is awful. The Rapids have lost games against teams currently in playoff position by a sizeable margin (Real Salt Lake: 6-0; Portland: 2-0; Atlanta: 3-0; Seattle: 4-0; LAFC: 3-0). Even at home, the team struggles. Sure, we could see Kellyn Acosta wanting to have a revenge game against his old club, but that’s one player. That’s it. This can be a game that can bring confidence to the FC Dallas attack before the playoffs. If Dallas drops any points against Colorado, it’s a worrying result — especially when a draw potentially pits you against a Salt Lake or a LA Galaxy.”
JA: “Well, Colorado is bad. If FC Dallas can’t get a win against a Rapids team without too much to play for, it doesn’t deserve a playoff bye. And it does need that bye. It’s tough to imagine FCD hosting and winning a knockout match and then turning right back around and winning another two series.”