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?