CHESTER, Pa. – Oscar Pareja understands the optics don’t look good.
For a team coming off the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and now challenging for the top seed in the Western Conference in ’17, losing back-to-back games by a combined score of 7-1 does seem rather jarring.
But the FC Dallas head coach insists that the last two contests are more of a blip than a major cause for concern.
“We have two results that doesn’t make it look like a team that's fighting for first in the conference,” Pareja admitted following FCD’s 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Union on Saturday. “We accept it. We’re not a team that was looking that good defensively. We will make the corrections. This club has the talent and we have the players to turn things around.
“This is a tough moment we will swallow and overcome with the character that has been a part of this team.”
From the start, it was clear that Saturday probably wouldn’t be FC Dallas’ night. Fresh off a humbling 4-0 home loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC last week, the Hoops allowed two goals in the first 22 minutes, with Union head coach Jim Curtin later calling it the team’s best half of the season.
That it came against a Dallas defense that had allowed fewer goals than all but three teams in MLS was a big reason for Curtin’s lofty praise. It was also surprising to Pareja, who thought his team should have been able to overcome their disappointing first half and still earn a result.
“It’s a game that you may think that you will win with options to score and you’re not clinical and the other team finds a way to hurt you,” the Dallas coach said. “And that shows that we’re not defending well. We take the responsibility starting with me. I’m disappointed that we’re conceding goals that easy, but at the same time, I have to say that the boys put a lot of volume on the other side of the field and they couldn’t score. In the second half, I thought we dominated.”
“Our team is ready,” midfielder Victor Ulloa said. “The guys that are here and are available have been doing a great job. I think that we have been working well since preseason and we have the depth that we always like to talk about.”
So what can they do to recover from the last two lopsided losses and stop their summer swoon?
“I think we need to stick to our fundamentals,” Ulloa said. “We always preach about keeping the zero and the shutout, and that we can score at any moment. Also, I think we are missing the final touch in the last third. We created chances, but unfortunately we dug ourselves deep with two goals in the first half and it is hard to come back from that."