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Red Card Rant Follow-Up

FC Dallas Coach Schellas Hyndman talks about team’s discipline

A few days ago I wrote about FC Dallas’ penchant for earning red cards this season, the latest offender being Jair Benitez who was booked against Houston Dynamo last Saturday.  Reckless on-field behavior, including red cards last month by Daniel Hernandez and Blas Perez, and a retroactive league suspension for Brek Shea, have kicked the team when it’s already down with an unbelievable number of injuries.  The cards have been extremely unwise (to put it nicely) given the club’s injury predicament and position in the Western Conference standings (currently last).  It made me seriously wonder what is going on leadership-wise at FCD.

Anyway, check out this interesting admission from Coach Schellas Hyndman posted on the club’s website yesterday…

It’s good to hear Coach Hyndman alarmed at the team’s lack of mental discipline, though I’m surprised there wasn’t already a disciplinary policy (fine, suspension, etc.) in place.  Anyway, it sounds like he’s ready to clamp down on this red card issue.  I just hope it’s not too little too late.

What do you think FC Dallas should do to improve their mental discipline?

Big D (for Disappointing)

FC Dallas’ meltdown continues with 2-1 loss at Houston

I’d really like to write something positive related to FC Dallas this year, but they’re making it very difficult.  I was hoping the long break after a busy stretch of games in May would recharge the team and turn around their increasingly dismal season.  Instead, fans got more of the same from the team’s visit to Houston last night.

The first hour went very well, with the team looking much livelier than we’ve seen since the first couple weeks of the season.  But then fans were treated to another completely boneheaded move from a veteran who should know better.  Jair Benitez earned a red card for elbowing (off-the-ball no less) Houston’s Colin Clark in the head.  Benitez’s inexcusable and inexplicable action killed FCD’s momentum and flushed away their remaining chance at possibly getting a much-needed win.

It’s understandable that players can lose their cool in the heat of battle, but Benitez’s ejection came when FCD was doing quite well in the game.  They were enjoying most of the possession at the time, had just tied the game a few minutes earlier, and had decent momentum.  What was Benitez thinking?  He wasn’t and that’s the problem.  Several FCD players haven’t been thinking this year.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend some time around the FCD coaching staff at a clinic and was impressed by their affable, down-to-earth style.  But I’m beginning to wonder if that easy-going atmosphere unintentionally allows lapses in players’ on-field discipline.  These FCD red cards are getting ridiculous.  The club should fine Jair Benitez.  Whether or not issuing fines is an effective means to chastise professional players is beyond my realm of expertise, but something must be done.  The card blunders this season are baffling considering the team’s injury woes.  The red cards have completely changed matches that FCD legitimately might have won.  It is also discouraging for fans – who are already disappointed that so many FCD stars are out injured – and have to endure further benchwarmer misadventures when players like Benitez are suspended for red cards.

Speaking of frustrating benchwarmers, it’s certainly not substitute Andrew Wiedeman’s fault that Dallas lost, but seriously, what was with his two awful corner kicks late in the match?  Before the first one, he squandered a shot opportunity in the box by trying to take a controlling touch when the team really just needed him to blast it at the goal.  On both corner kicks, he sailed the ball completely over the cluster of FCD players in the box.  It was a maddening waste since chances were precious with FCD down to ten men.

On the plus side, Castillo showed some real spark in the first half and Jackson played out of his mind.  Jackson showed amazing speed and tremendous stamina.  He scored FCD’s only goal and later saved a goal off the line.  The problem with Jackson and Castillo is their propensity for holding onto the ball a couple seconds too long.  They both have too many turnovers in the critical final third.

It would be easy for the team, and fans, to blame FC Dallas’ poor season on all the injuries.  But FCD has been very competitive in most of their matches this year, and should have won many of them, despite their missing starters.  This is no longer a slump – it’s a crisis.  Adversity often reveals what a team is truly made of, and right now I’m pretty disappointed with what I see.

What should FC Dallas do to correct its course?

Seeing Red

Hernandez & Perez lack common sense in 2-0 loss to Colorado

FC Dallas has had an awful start to the 2012 MLS season.  Not so much in terms of points (12 so far from 10 games, in 6th place in the Western Conference), but because of injuries.  The injured list is so ridiculously long that the club had to bring in an extra player last week (former Timbers man James Marcelin) to augment the weakened squad.  It’s a nightmare scenario for manager Schellas Hyndman, as even Brek Shea missed Sunday night’s home clash with Colorado due to turf toe issues.

Knowing the team is scraping to get by, veteran (and former captain) Daniel Hernandez received two yellow cards in short succession, earning himself an early trip to the showers, all in the first half hour against Colorado.  Two minutes after the Hernandez ejection, new FCD forward Blas Perez received a red card for a bone-headed, cleats up collision with the Rapids’ Drew Moor.  Suddenly, with nearly an hour of the match remaining, Dallas had nine players and little chance of winning an important match.

The Perez red card might’ve been debatable, but it was probably deserved.  Hernandez’s two yellows were certainly deserved.  They were both very petty offenses committed by veteran players who should know better.

The Hernandez cards were particularly problematic because he received the first one for mouthing off at the ref.  It was ridiculous, immature, and unacceptable behavior from one of the team leaders.  Hernandez is a tough dude and has been a solid midfielder for Dallas the past few seasons, but he is too mouthy, and this time it is really going to cost his team.  Hernandez has earned two red cards already this season.  He seems to have lost a step, which has made him prone to irrational challenges.  He would be much better suited to a substitute role this season, but Dallas’ current injury situation makes that difficult.

The Perez challenge was very unwise considering that Hernandez had just been ejected.  Perez seemed to be a great acquisition at the season’s start, but I’d like to see more goals and fewer off-the-ball shenanigans from him.  Just play the game!

The mental lapse of two players with so much experience hurts Dallas during a crucial week with Seattle visiting on Wednesday and a trip to Columbus Saturday.  Having lost to Colorado, these next two matches are even more important.  The ejections were also a slap in the face to FC Dallas fans that didn’t pay to see the team limp their way through an hour of the match with nine men (as valiant as they were) on their way to a 2-0 defeat.

What do you think?  Am I being too harsh with these red card criticisms?