SALT LAKE CITY - For almost the first four months of the MLS season, FC Dallas have enjoyed a dream season. They've been one of the best teams in the league from the start, they haven't had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net, and a league-high six players and the club's coaching staff have been slated to participate in next week's All-Star Game.
That is until things fell apart last week in New England and then continued in Salt Lake. The Hoops conceded three first-half goals - all from set pieces - to suffer their worst loss of the year to a Real Salt Lake team that hadn't scored more than two goals all year.
"We knew they were dangerous from set plays," said FC Dallas coach Colin Clarke. "We fell asleep on one in the the very first minute, dug ourselves a little bit of a hole and went from there. Three goals on three set plays."
In only the third minute Clint Mathis found Brian Dunseth wide open in the box. Dunseth was able to turn off his defender and tap in past a helpless Scott Garlick.
"We didn't stay with our markers," said Clarke. "Two good players strong in the air, Dunseth and [Nelson] Akwari and we didn't pick up Dunseth."
In the 26th minute Jordan Cila got up to meet an Andy Williams service. Cila had essentially an open net and buried his chance to put FCD in a 2-0 hole.
"On the second, another free kick, we fell asleep, and another free header," said a disappointed Clarke.
Finally, Clint Mathis completed the damage, sizzling a 40-yard free kick inside the right post.
"You can see the result, 3-0," said FCD captain Simo Valakari. "It was a nightmare result.
"Everybody let everybody down, both teammates and the fans back home, but especially ourselves because we know we can play better. That's soccer, though; if you don't work hard you won't play well."
Before any serious damage to FCD's season occurs, the Hoops need to learn from the results of the last two weeks and move forward.
"We need to forget this game and move on and look forward to Wednesday's game versus the MetroStars," said Arturo Alvarez. "We need to bounce back against them and get back to our winning ways."
"That is the good thing ... you have the Wednesday night game to put things right," said Valakari. "We have to learn. I'm glad it happened now early in the season; it would be much worse if it happened in the playoffs. There is no way to get back then. We have to learn, we're still a young team. We have to play together and learn from our mistakes."
Scott McAllister is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.