After scoring eight goals in their first four matches, the FC Dallas attack has stalled a bit lately, with only one goal in their last three matches. With the Los Angeles Galaxy, who have allowed a league-high 15 goals, visiting Pizza Hut Park this weekend, that figures to change -- but clearly the Hoops are having trouble scoring goals.
Last weekend, after back-to-back shutouts by New England and San Jose, the Hoops did hit the back of the net when they lost 2-1 at Real Salt Lake. In that match, FCD had 16 shots with five on frame, just the second time all year the Hoops had outshot their opponent.
Early in the season, one sticking point was a lack of possession and the ball moving through the midfield. That was there in spots at RSL but not on a consistent basis. Yet FCD head coach Steve Morrow feels that he is getting adequate movement through the middle of the field from his midfielders.
"I think it's been there," he said. "It was certainly there at home against New England when we had good possession. We went to Salt Lake and got 16 shots off, which was more than them. So, I certainly think we created enough chances. It's a difficult surface to try and possess the ball and move it through the middle of the field but we're confident that we have the players to be able to do that."
Ironically, in the five matches where FCD has been outshot by the opposition, they are 2-0-3 with eight goals scored. Compare that to the two games where they have outshot their opponent, when they are 0-1-1 with just one goal scored.
"I think one of the big things is that we need get more people into the box," said FCD forward Abe Thompson, who has one goal and one assist this year. "At times, we don't even have all the forwards in the box. If there's a ball coming in from out wide, we need to be getting four or five bodies in the box but at the moment, we're getting maybe one or two.
"That's something that we've been working on and will continue working on. A lot of the time, scoring goals is all about getting people in the box. It's not always the guy who makes the run or has the first touch that scores the goal. Sometimes, it's someone that happens to be standing in there who scores."
Fellow striker Arturo Alvarez, who has two goals and two assists this season, has a differing viewpoint.
"I think it's important to get players into the box and if we were getting crosses in and not getting anyone in there, then I would agree with that," he said. "There have been a few times on crosses where there could've been more numbers in the box, including myself. Sometimes, we're just not playing well."
Alvarez explained FCD's offensive problems last weekend in pretty simple terms.
"We weren't keeping the ball well and were also playing on turf with the ball going all over the place," he said. "I think we need to pick it up now. After two games like that, it has to be better. The way we started the season is a big difference compared to how we did in the last two games. We need to start this here in practice and hopefully show it against LA this weekend at home."
He added that the Hoops also need to be better in possession. "Overall, we need to keep the ball more and be more patient with it," Alvarez said. "We definitely have the players to do that. Our midfielders need to get the ball more and once it gets there, we need to make sure that as forwards, we make runs for them to create chances to get us the ball."
And with the Hoops having their final three matches of May at home, there is no time like the present to get their offense clicking.
"That will be good," Thompson said. "We have LA on the weekend, Salt Lake after that and Houston the Wednesday after that. Having three games to close out the month at home will be nice, especially after being on the road for the last two weeks. They're all very important because we didn't get all the points we wanted to on this last road trip. It's going to be important that we close out the month well with a couple of wins here in front of our home fans and on our home field before we have to go on the road again."
Kenny Cooper, who had FCD's lone goal at RSL, his team-leading fifth of the season, agrees that it's good to be home for a while.
"I'm really excited about the game this weekend," he said. "Hopefully, it will be a great atmosphere and hopefully, we can get back to winning ways this weekend. This weekend is an important game for us. We're coming back home, which is nice and hopefully, we can get a good result."
Added Morrow: "We've got three home games coming up now and that's good. We should be looking to pick up maximum points in those three games because that's what we expect. I think as a group, we've all let our standards slip a little bit. When results don't go your way, you need to regroup."
"We'll make sure that we come out with the right attitude on Sunday," he continued. "It's a home game and have two more home games to follow after that. We need to make sure we get good results in each of those games. But the results haven't affected us at all. We should've come out of San Jose with something better and Salt Lake as well."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.