Three Questions for FC Dallas
After the disappointing draw at home to Seattle, FC Dallas faces a crucial stretch of games. We have questions. Maybe you do too?
First, now show yesterday due to some family conflicts, but we will be looking to work in some commentary ahead of a busy week. Maybe we will do another watch-along as Dallas travels to Real Salt Lake tomorrow evening.
But those dropped points at home are becoming a trend for this team, and it’s raising a lot of troubling question marks.
One: What happened to the FC Dallas we saw in the Leagues Cup?
I’ve already hit on this before, but it has been puzzling to see how this squad has played since a scintillating run of form in the Leages Cup.
For the Leagues Cup, FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez made a big change, moving Alan Velasco to the midfield. Bernard Kamungo was also a welcome addition on the wing. The change, while not solving every problem Dallas has had, proved a huge boost. Dallas unlocked some attacking movements and danger they had been missing. They scored a bunch of goals. They showed up on the big stage.
Fast foward, Dallas’ last win was at home against Austin FC, and it relied on the continued heroics of Nkosi Tafari for a late header. Before that though, fans were disappointed. It was a performance that lacked.
Since then, things have been miserable - mistakes against St Louis City SC and the complete disappearance of the attack in the second half against Seattle.
Maybe the team just isn’t as good as they have shown in moments. Maybe this squad is at best at the bottom of the playoff fight.
Alternately, Nico, who had a great first year, could be found out by the rest of the league. His reliance on Jesus Jimenez as a regular sub is a head scratcher. The guy has been an absolute black hole offensively for this team, and for his veteran savy and skill, something is not right. Overall, the coaching and tactical decisions have been missing at times when this team needs to find a way to break down an opponent.
Finally, injuries do play a role. The team missed Velasco over the weekend. Kamungo is out. Geovane Jesus was coming on strong before suffering a season ending injury. It’s been a tough year on this front, and any head coach will see his team suffer in a similar situation. Maybe it’s just been the inability for this team to stay healthy and get that rhythm going.
Frankly, for me, I was surprised to see Nico point out the heat and humidity as a problem for his squad this past weekend. It’d be like the Rapids (interim) head coach complaining about the altitude with his players. You get to train in it. It’s one of your biggest assets at home. Your players need to be prepared.
The whole team needs to put these results behind them and go out and play some fun soccer starting this week, or the playoffs are going to be out of the question.
Two: Is Nico Estevez on the hot seat?
There has been some chatter about Nico being on the hot seat in Major League Soccer. It’s unfounded, but if Nico isn’t careful, that spark could start crackling.
Our friends at Big D Soccer took some time to discuss this, and I agree with their assessment.
Dan Hunt is going to give Nico time. The injury situation has been tough this year, and Nico is still growing as a coach. Dan Hunt will give this staff a bit longer of a leash than other front offices might.
Still, if FC Dallas continues to struggle and Nico loses this team, it’s not out of the question for Hunt and company to decide they have seen enough. This squad is way too talented to be struggling in this way. For once, Dallas has outlaid a significant investment in young attacking talent. Nico needs to find the adjustments and tweaks to get this team turned around, or he opens the door even further to this conversation.
Three: What is the minimum points that FC Dallas needs to get to make the playoffs?
I’m not a math genius, but the good news is that the Western Conference is a bloodbath. Dallas only remains eight points from LAFC in second place. They have two games in hand on a few teams. There is plenty of opportunity to grab a couple of key results and get right back in this.
With seven games left, winning out would no doubt be enough. It’s unlikely.
Three games at home remain. Nine points might be enough to guarantee a spot in the playoffs. Grab a couple of road points, and Dallas should punch a ticket pretty, somewhere with 46-47 points. Other teams are going to drop points.
Here’s the down side - they have a murder’s row of matches.
Philly? Columbus? Houston? Los Angeles Galaxy? San Jose?
All teams fighting for playoff spots too.
Dallas doesn’t have much margin for error.
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