FCD confident despite poor form

FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas has heard enough about putting an end to their six-game winless run or the fact that they've taken just a single point in their last five league games.

During that time, the Hoops have won a game - defeating the Columbus Crew in the U.S. Open Cup in Ohio - which happens to be the next opponent and locale for FCD.

FC Dallas knocked off a nine-man Crew 3-1 in extra time on Aug. 3 in Columbus, which sent the Hoops into the quarterfinals and also marked the return of U.S. international Eddie Johnson from injury.

Johnson put the exclamation point on the victory by converting a penalty kick late in extra time, his only goal in an FC Dallas uniform since May 22.

"I don't think we are playing bad soccer, we are just making bad mistakes at the wrong time late in the game," said Johnson. "We are still playing good soccer."

The game at Crew Stadium (the Open Cup match was played at Jesse Owens Stadium on the Ohio State University campus) will be the first chance this season for FC Dallas to get national exposure and in a day game at that, as the Hoops play the first of two games scheduled for ESPN2. The next will be a rare Sunday match against Real Salt Lake on Sept. 18 at Pizza Hut Park.

"It's a nice afternoon game and I think everyone is up for it," said FCD captain and midfielder Simo Valakari. "I think [the losing streak] is all mental for everybody. We just need to get the result and we will feel good physically."

There will be no rest for the weary as the Hoops will travel from Columbus to Washington, D.C. for the midweek Open Cup quarterfinal match against D.C. United. They then return home next weekend for a conference duel with the newly revamped Chivas USA.

With all the hype a new facility brings the Hoops could use a game or two away from home and the Crew match would be a perfect time for the club to make a statement and get back to winning ways. The home team has its own frustrations coming into the contest, dropping their last three games in all competitions to FCD, San Jose and the MetroStars.

"On the road nobody expects us to dominate the game," said Valakari. "We can go there play solid and play as a team and get the result. Columbus needs a result as well and it's not an easy place to play."

Perhaps foremost in the minds of the Dallas players this week is making sure the defensive performance improves. FCD has allowed 15 goals in their last six MLS games, allowing three on three different occasions.

"We have been working hard in practice all week. We are lacking defense as a team, its all 11 guys," said Valakari. "We have to get the results and turn the team around."

Still, despite the poor string of results, FC Dallas are still just four points out of first place, a margin that can be erased very quickly in MLS.

"At the end of the day I think our players are playing with confidence and we are still playing good soccer," said Johnson.

Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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