FRISCO, Texas – Talk about hot and cold.
FC Dallas’ season hardly could have started better, with five wins in their first seven games seeing them to the top of the Western Conference table. Then FCD went in the complete opposite direction in an eight-game winless streak, ushering a precipitous fall in the standings.
But after a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rapids on June 7 got them back on track, the team is hoping their solid leadership and confidence will help them get back to being a top MLS club in the season’s second half. And they'll face another big test Friday when they play host to the Philadelphia Union (9 pm ET; MLS Live).
“We just kept doing what we were doing,” said defender Matt Hedges. “You can see we’re getting better results, we’re getting people back healthy. We should be great.”
The evidence is there that FCD have what it takes to be just that.
They beat the Portland Timbers at home 2-1 on March 29, Houston Dynamo 4-1 on the road on April 5 and Toronto FC 2-1 at home on April 19. With dynamic midfielder Mauro Diaz running the show, with three goals and three assists through eight games before he suffered a late-April knee injury that has kept him out since, FCD scored 17 goals in their first seven games.
And after snapping out of their eight-game winless streak, FCD followed their win over the Rapids with a 2-2 draw against the Timbers on June 11, two US Open Cup victories, the latest a 3-2 win over the Dynamo on June 24, and a scoreless draw against the Columbus Crew on June 29.
The draw was frustrating, head coach Oscar Pareja said, but he’s happy with the recent turnaround.
“When you have a team that is not content tying away, its good news,” Pareja said after the Columbus game. “We had four options in front of the goal to walk out with three points. It doesn’t fulfill our expectations of the game.”
“We are content but it is not enough, we want more. Everything has to be better.”
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During the eight-game skid that started with a 4-1 loss to DC United on April 26, the team faced a variety of daunting challenges: five away matches, four of them in back-to-back road games on short rest, and a number of injuries to significant players, as well as four red-card ejections.
A big part of the challenge in May was a lack of scoring. June saw the team return to scoring two or more goals in every match but the game in Columbus.
“Credit to the guys up top, they’ve been playing tremendous the last month or so,” said defender Zach Loyd.
One big positive to come out of the recent run of games has been the play of winger Andres Escobar, who has a goal after starting the last three league games. And with the recent suspension of fellow winger Fabian Castillo, Escobar’s success will be even more important, although July should also see the return of midfielders Hendry Thomas and Diaz.
“He has put together a couple of games,” Pareja said of Escobar. “He has put a lot into accomplishing what you want on the field. He is contributing to the team, scoring goals and getting the love of the players and the fans. He is giving what they brought him here for.”