FRISCO, Tex. – As the dog days of summer begin to melt away in Texas, so does the slumping attack of FC Dallas.
Unfortunately for them, that didn't extend to melt away their winless ways.
“Bitter for us. A bad night. We had the lead. We should have kept it,” said midfielder Victor Ulloa on Wednesday of FC Dallas’ 3-3 draw with Houston as part of Heineken Rivalry Week. “It has to be better for us. We have to get that monkey off our backs.”
Prior to Wednesday night, FCD were outscored 9-1 over four straight contests, and it appeared as if that dismal stretch would continue.
That is, until the 45th minute, when Tesho Akindele atoned for a wide open miss just minutes earlier by blasting an equalizer to the top right corner of the net after weaving his way through the middle of the Dynamo defense.
The goal was the proverbial opening of the floodgates for the FC Dallas attack, with Maynor Figueroa scoring just minutes later in injury time to give FC Dallas their first lead in a match since July 22 against Montreal.
Fast forward six minutes later to the 51st minute, and Dallas' attack came out of its funk even more, with Maxi Urruti drilling a no-looker from outside the area to make it 3-1 and give them the belief they've snapped their slump. That was before Dynamo forward Erick "Cubo" Torres hit two goals to split the points, leaving Dallas with a bitter taste in their mouths when all was said and done.
“The boys scored three goals today and we were in a stretch where we couldn’t find the net. But today we did it,” Pareja said. “Now the game balances up on the other side when we concede two, [but] this is a long season.”
Those two conceded goals was the difference between FC Dallas leapfrogging Houston in the Western Conference standings and remaining in the fifth spot – closer to the playoff line than the top of the West.
As a result of the two steps forward, two steps back result, FCD find themselves where they have been for two months. Since the calendar turned to July, the club only has three wins and 11 points in league play.
And while FC Dallas still have games in hand compared to the four teams above them, the concern may be turning from whether they can reclaim the contender status they entered the season with.
For his part, Pareja maintained an even approach to the recent difficulties.
“We come up a bit disappointed because we had three points at home – points we needed,” Pareja said. “But we’ve got to keep moving, and it’s just work. Nothing else.”
Ulloa's message was more urgent, however.
“At this point in the season we’re playing for our lives. We’re playing for the playoff push and to make it.”