FRISCO, Texas – The rumble started after a surprising 4-1 loss at D.C. United on April 26.
Now it is approaching a roar after a fourth consecutive FC Dallas loss: that the 2014 edition of FCD is going to collapse just the way they did last season.
The similarities are certainly there: a fast start, big wins, first place in the Supporters’ Shield standings, followed by a sudden run of unwanted results. Last year, Dallas slipped from a 7-1-3 start to a 4-11-8 finish and eighth place in the Western Conference.
Complicating matters, coach Oscar Pareja's team now faces a run of three games in eight days, starting with Saturday’s home match against a resurgent Chivas USA team (8:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), followed by road matches against conference powers LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
But two veterans of last year’s campaign do not see the same team. In fact, they see very different sides.
“I don’t think we’re playing poorly,” said defender Matt Hedges. “In 2013, you could tell, we just weren’t playing well, but these games we’re not playing that badly. We’re still doing what we need to do, just not getting the results right now. And I think that is going to change soon.”
Team captain Andrew Jacobson referenced the fact that in the last three games, Dallas have lost by a single goal, and pointed to the game against the New York Red Bulls, when Dallas played down a man for 80 minutes, as a positive sign.
“It’s leadership, experience. Guys who have been through these kinds of things,” he said. “If people start losing a little confidence, you bring them back on and you just keep moving. I think in D.C., that second half [where United reeled off three unanswered goals in 10 minutes] was a wake-up call. When we got that red card [in a 1-0 home loss to] New York, no one put their head down. We gave our all. You can take something away from that.”
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Ultimately, Jacobson expects leadership from veteran players and the coaching staff to prevent a sense of déjà vu in Dallas.
“I think there is a real collective nature to the team this year, and everybody has a lot of faith in the coaching staff,” Jacobson said. “I think [Pareja] has a good sense of all the players, where they are. I think everyone feels good but hungry.”