FRISCO, Texas – A five-game unbeaten streak, followed by a five-game winless streak, followed by a five-game win streak.
To call the FC Dallas season thus far a roller coaster could be considered an understatement.
Now, the club is beginning yet another streak, as they currently sit on a two-game losing run with a trip to Western Conference power Vancouver Whitecaps looming on Saturday (10 pm ET, TSN1 in Canada, MLS LIVE in USA).
The “streaky” narrative has followed Dallas for years, and even some of the club’s longest-tenured players cannot put their fingers on why the team rides the league standings like a roller coaster.
“That’s a good question,” captain Matt Hedges told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s kind of been our thing for the last few years. We’ve always been pretty streaky – do well in the beginning, struggle in the middle, and then do well at the end. We’ve been looking for an answer for a while to that.”
There are many factors that have played into this year’s edition of Dallas’ streaky nature: international call-ups, a five-game road trip in the summer, the positive growth of youngsters like Fabian Castillo and Mauro Diaz, to name a few.
One possible reason the club has failed to maintain consistency is the team’s youth. As one of the youngest teams in MLS, Hedges believes certain tendencies can arise with a young team.
“If you get a couple of wins a row, you can start getting real up about it. And when you have one bad result, you go real low,” Hedges said of young players. “I think that could definitely be a factor. We always try to say you can’t get too high when you’re doing well and you can’t get too low when you’re not because it can turn around really quick.”
“It could, because the youth sometimes needs time and games to be more solid,” added head coach Oscar Pareja. “Maybe this is consistency going along with the youth. It’s better than having a lot of experience and being at the bottom. I’ll take this one right now.
Defender Zach Loyd also had a hard time attributing the team’s streakiness. But when it comes to youth playing into the equation, he disagrees that it plays a major role in the trend.
“We’re young. But at the same time, we’ve got guys that might be young, but they’ve got 30, 40 games under their belt,” Loyd told MLSsoccer.com. “I think after that, you’ve kind of passed the learning curve and have become a more experienced player.”
Pareja downplayed the notion that Dallas is in a unique situation, pointing out that nearly every team in MLS goes through similar stretches through the rigors of a long season.
Regardless if the trend is unique to FCD, they face the possibility of riding into another valley on their 2015 roller coaster. If they fall to Whitecaps on Saturday, it will be Dallas’ second three-game losing streak of the season. The 2010 team that went to the MLS Cup final never lost three straight.
But with only 23 games under their belt, which is at least two games fewer than all but one of the teams ahead of Dallas in the Western Conference, the 2015 club is still confident where they sit.
“We have been streaky, but at the same time we’re still sitting in a good spot,” Loyd said. “We’re two games behind a couple of teams. And if we capitalize on six points, that pushes us right back to the top of the table.”