By Will Martin
What began as a promising start to the season for FC Dallas (5-1-1) as we approached Easter has now fallen into a bit of a funk. The loss at DC United two weeks ago as sound of a beating as one could ask for. Three tough losses in the last calendar week has FC Dallas sitting at .500 with a 5-5-1 record, tied at 3rd with the Vancouver Whitecaps with 16 points and with more questions than answers at this juncture.
Wednesday night May 7 took the FCD to Sounder country in Seattle where they have been red hot of late. Borrowing from their rivals #RedFor90 mantra the Sounders have been garnering wins and draws seemingly after the 80th minute in determining their outcome. Kenny Cooper would get that honor this night in the 88th minute of a 2-1 triumph before 38,489 fans.
Things started out well for FC Dallas as they would quickly take to enjoying a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute after Brad Evans got penalized for a tackle on Blas Perez outside the box, allowing FC Dallas a 5th penalty kick this season. One more than they have attained all of last season. Ironically the Sounders have been called for four penalties this season. That was their total for all of 2012 and 2013 combined!
Michel for the fourth time would convert on this kick firing to the right of Swiss goalie Stephan Frei for a 1-0 lead.
The score would remain as such until the 62nd minute when Seattle converted a turnover on Dallas’ Blas Perez (who awaited a penalty but was denied) and the Sounders quickly converted three quick and efficient passes from Marco Pappa who crossed over to Obafemi Martins outside the right corner of the box who then hit a left footed pass to Lamar Neagle knifing through the FCDallas defense underneath and shot it through for a 1-1 tie.
It was also a nice touch for Neagle who celebrated a birthday on this night.
Playing with Raul Fernandez at goal this night El Matador played a herculean game with some crazy stops and denial of goal shots from the likes of Clint Dempsey, Osvaldo Alonso and Marco Pappa. Dempsey very easily could have had himself another hat trick night like he did one month ago at Portland.
Fabian Castillo and Victor Ulloa would substitute the 65th and 72nd minutes for David Texeira and Danny Garcia with the hope of some added aggression and pop as FCDallas tried to snap the two game skid. It appeared that FCDallas would break through in the 82nd minute when Michel planted a through ball to a wide open Castillo in the Sounders backfield only to hit a left footed shot that went straight and center to Stephan Frei for an easy catch and stop.
Obafemi Martins would net his 5th assist of the season in the 88th minute as once again he’d be wide open to the left side of the box and passing a left footer that was blasted past Raul Fernandez by one time teammate Kenny Cooper to give Seattle the 2-1 victory and send 38,459 fans home happy into the Emerald City night.
The 5th straight Sounder game won after the 80th minute to improve to 7-2-1, 22 points all alone in the Western Conference and by far the best record in all of the MLS.
Seattle won the shots on goal battle 19-8, passing and accuracy 450-348/84%-75%, FC Dallas played a level of defense that was very aggressive. At one point holding a 12-4 advantage which wound up 19-11 in the FCD’s favor. Corner kicks favored FC Dallas 9-8.Give the possession advantage to the Sounders 56% to 44%.
After the game Coach Oscar Pareja chose to accentuate the positive and spoke well of his overall team effort.
Talk a little bit about the lineup and formation changes?
We play with the players that belong on the field. They had a game three days ago and now we have another game in three days. That’s the way the schedule was set and so we play with the boys that are healthy and the boys that can come in and do the job. With the formation we prepare the game depending on the opposite team, too.
Going into the second half what was the strategy discussed?
We knew Seattle was going to throw bodies up front. Definitely, we wanted to control the tempo of the game. We knew it’s a place where we know the fullbacks [will attack]. The forwards are moving in a way that may put us in a [tough position]. But I don’t think that was the case. We defended well and tried to keep the result that we had in the first half.
What were your thoughts on the overall performance of the game?
A good game for us, a good game. We deserved more but that’s the game.
Andrew Jacobson offered the following:
Andrew, what was your mindset going into the second half?
We knew they were going to push… They were at home. We were in a good position going into the second half but we knew they were going to go forward. They have a lot of talented guys. It wasn’t a surprise. We wanted to keep the good shape we were playing with in the first half and at the same time try to play through their lines of defense… They attacked very well but our guys fought hard, we just couldn’t hold on at the end there.
FC Dallas fell to 5-4-1 with this defeat. No rest for the weary as it was then off to San Jose for a Saturday night meetup May 10th.
In a matchup that one could deem frustrating FC Dallas had ample opportunities to put this game away in the second half with a one man advantage and a 20-7 shots on goal edge in the second half. All of that for naught as the Earthquakes would put an after shock on FC Dallas in another brutal 2-1 defeat.
Cordell Cato would get his 1st goal of the season in the 25th minute, assisted beautifully by a Clarence Goodson and Goalie Jon Busch for an early 1-0 lead for San Jose. That lead would increase to 2-0 in the 73rd minute as a shot would bounce off the person of David Teixeira for an own goal.
Goalie Jon Busch was epic defending the San Jose net early and often. To the consternation of Oscar Pareja and the FC Dallas team.
Michel would give FC Dallas their lone score in the 76th minute. Still with the loss Team Pareja fell to 5-5-1 while San Jose improved to 2-3-4 and unbeaten at home. Numerically all the numbers belonged to FC Dallas after a red card was issued to Shea Salinas for a serious foul put forth on Zach Loyd. Corner kicks favored FC Dallas 11-5, shots on goal 20-7, ball possession 63% to 37%, even the fouls were cut in half from Seattle with only 8 to San Jose’s 16.
Even with the Earthquakes also on their third game in 8 days like FC Dallas the Red For 90 kids were unable to find the equalizer despite scoring chances by Victor Ulloa in the 57th minute, Fabian Castillo at minute 61, Matt Hedges hitting his shot attempt wide in the 79th minute, Castillo in the 82nd minute, and lastly Tesho Akindele in minute 89 as his volley went a little too far wide as 10,525 fans of San Jose went home content and grateful for the effort.
Certainly you can understand Oscar Pareja’s frustration with the result after this night.
Coach, your thoughts on the overall result?
It’s hard to believe that we are faced with this result. The heart of the players and the desire was there, I can’t complain about it. The number of options that we created was good and we put the ball in the back of our own goal. It was a very unfortunate night for us.
Your thoughts Coach on the teams effort?
At this point, it’s hard to see all of the positive things, but I’m glad that you asked me that because the way that these guys ran the field today was very well done. I have to praise my players and I back them up with all of my heart because there was nothing but effort and desire; but, oh well, we’ll take it. It’s a long season.
As FC Dallas prepares for a home game May 17th with Chivas USA Matt Hedges weighed in with a few thoughts of his own.
Matt, your thoughts on the overall physicality of the match?
We knew coming in that it was going to be like that. I just had to tell them to do what they do. We knew what our game plan and strategy was coming in so we had to keep on playing.
Can you describe your mindset for next week back at home?
We just have to be mad. We have to come out and work even harder against Chivas [USA]. We have to remember this result and what it felt like and use that as motivation for our next game.
May 17th the cellar dwelling Chivas USA (1-5-3) might be just what the doctor ordered for FC Dallas as they’ll try to snap a four game skid, the last three by a 1 goal in a stretch of eight days.
5/17 vs Chivas USA 7:30 p.m.