FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas’ nine-match winless run has them reeling, but with a win this Sunday against the LA Galaxy at FC Dallas Stadium, they would move right back into a playoff position in the Western Conference.
FCD currently sit one point out of a playoff spot in sixth place, and they are only three points behind the second place Colorado Rapids. So while they are undoubtedly still in the hunt, coach Schellas Hyndman also knows that they need to turn things around post haste to have a chance to make some noise in the MLS Playoffs.
“We have 12 games left,” Hyndman told reporters Tuesday after practice. "If we don’t address the issues now, we’re going to run out of games."
The coaches held a special team meeting with the players later Tuesday afternoon where they planned to play a little good-cop, bad-cop and show the squad everything they were doing right earlier in the season when they were setting the pace for the rest of the league, and then everything that’s gone wrong the last two-and-a-half months since their last victory.
“Here’s what we did the first 15 games, here are the number of goals we scored, here was our record, our standing in the league, here’s where we were for the Supporters' Shield and where we were to the conference lead,” Hyndman explained.
“And then, what happened the last seven games and the results, how many goals did we score, how many goals did we score with free kicks the first 15 games, how many did we score with free kicks the last seven? How many goals have we given up? This isn’t a bickering situation, it’s kind of a reality check. Here’s where you were, everybody had a smile on their face we were doing well, here’s where we are right now.”
FC Dallas' coach is keenly aware of his team’s scoreless drought and the entire focus of Tuesday’s session was making penetrating runs, delivering smart final third passes and finishing chances. The crux of the scoring problem, according to Hyndman, is that his club has fallen in love with possession without purpose.
“The first part of the training session, I let them play the way they play," he said. "Then I stopped it at three minutes and asked how many times we’ve been across the center circle. We’re getting very content with keeping the ball and going nowhere with it and not putting opponents under pressure. To do that, you’ve got to run forward, you’ve got to think forward, you’ve got to pass forward and shoot.
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“We’ve stopped being aggressive going forward,” he continued.
While that may be grounds for a lineup shift, don't expect new signing Mauro Díaz to get the full 90 just yet. There are fitness – and climate – concerns.
“[In] Argentina, it’s their wintertime and he’s coming from a cooler climate to 95, 100 degrees and that’s a big change in itself," Hyndman explained. "He also has been inactive for close to three months soccer-wise. Yes, he tried to stay fit, tried to stay active, but he hasn’t played games and you need that.
“Realistically, I think he’ll be close to 90 minutes the 1st of September is what we’re hoping for.”
And they're hoping that, by then, it won't be too late.