A Tale of Two Halves – The Downward Spiral of FC Dallas

For what started as a promising night for MLS bottom feeders, FC Dallas, turned out to be one of disaster and disappointment for fans and players alike.

Sometimes following a team can be like a roller coaster, with its ups and downs throughout a long season, but for FC Dallas fans this season has been nothing but an endless plunge towards the bottom of the MLS standings with no end in sight.  The match against Real Salt Lake at the Rio Tinto stadium would be of no relief to the fans or players either.

The match would start out strong for FC Dallas, with Jeff Cunningham scoring his 108th goal in his MLS career, tying him with opposing Coach Jason Kreis as number 3 all-time goal scorer in MLS history.  In the 7th minute, Cunningham would pick a ball from RSL midfielder Will Johnson and stumble a few steps before shooting past a frozen Nick Rimando.  This was possibly one of the ugliest goals I have seen in soccer, but it gave the fans some hope as FCD does not start off quick often.  Three minutes later RSL defender Robbie Russell would go down for good, being subbed off in the 10th for Beltran after sustaining an injury when his foot got caught on the turf earlier in the match.  Now FCD fans were happy RSL was down one sub in the early stages of the game and were playing lights out to start the match.  In the 21st minute a ball picked up by FCD midfielder Andre Rocha would find the feet of Dax McCarty, Jeff Cunningham, and David Ferreira before a one touch pass sent the ball across the box to an oncoming Dave Van den Bergh, who would put the ball just under a diving Nick Rimando to give FCD a 2-0 advantage halfway through the first half.

Play seemed to stall after FCD’s second goal as RSL got their bearings and started to cover better on defense not allowing FCD in for a 3rd, although there were chances.  By the end of the half it was obvious there needed to be some changes made both tactically and in personnel if FCD were going to finish the game out on top.  George John, just back from injury was struggling with a leg injury, and RSL needed a boost for the second half in the form of offense.

The second half would see Daniel Torres come on to replace the injured George John and RSL would bring Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan in to provide the offense it so desperately needed.  This would prove to be a poor move by FCD’s Coach Hyndman and a stroke of genius by his counterpart Jason Kreis.  RSL now looked dangerous in the attack with Movsisyan and got a goal back when he beat the FCD back line and was in on FCD keeper Ray Burse for a one on one that he would finish with ease, thus taking the score line to 2-1 FCD.  Now this should have told Hyndman something about his tactics and changes that needed to be made, but for now he would stick with what he had going for him, which he would soon find out was not a good idea.

Very quickly RSL were back attacking a weak FCD defense and when a long ball was played over the top, FCD newcomer left back Jair Benitez, would pull RSL forward Robbie Findley down in the box, awarding RSL with a penalty to equalize.  Findley decided to take his own PK and put it past the outstretched arms of FCD keeper Ray Burse to even the scores, giving RSL more confidence in finding a result in this match.  RSL was playing with confidence, but in the 72nd minute, just 10 minutes after RSL had equalized, disaster would strike.  Jeff Cunningham would be taken down outside the box giving FCD a shot from about 23 yards out to be taken by FCD free kick specialist, Dave Van den Bergh.  The Dutchman would not disappoint either, as when the ball was rising towards the RSL wall of defenders, it caught Chris Wingert on the arm, unintentionally, no card given and a shot from the spot to be taken by Jeff Cunningham.  This shot could put Cunningham into sole possession of the number 3 all-time spot for goal scoring in MLS, and when better to do it than when you are playing against the man you are tied with.  But this would not be the case, as Cunningham took a poor penalty, and the quick reflexes of RSL keeper Nick Rimando allowed him to stop and trap the ball without so much as a second chance opportunity.

Having already been beaten down by allowing RSL to come back and tie the match up, this officially put the nails in the coffin for an FCD team who has had nothing but struggles all season.  Coach Hyndman though was happy to play along with the squad he had on the field though, hoping to play for a draw at least on the road against RSL.  Following the penalty, referee Ricardo Salazar, who is yet another example of horrible refs in the MLS, issued a Red Card to RSL player Clint Mathis.  This came as a shock to Mathis since he had nothing to do with the previous play and was a good 40 yards from Salazar when the decision took place.  The mix up would be fixed though as the fourth official would call Salazar over to explain to him that it was RSL’s Coach Kreis who was the one throwing verbal abuse towards the officials.  This reversed the call immediately, seeing Kreis booted from his bench and Mathis allowed to stay in the match.

FCD throughout all of this had been silently hoping they could still pull off a win or at least a draw; any points would suit them but still be a disappointment after allowing the 2 goals earlier in the half.  This would not be the case though, because in the 88th minute a cross put into the FCD box by RSL would find the back of Daniel Torres leg and be re-directed into the FCD goal, this putting RSL up 1 with minutes left and making the night more disastrous for FCD players and fans.  Many of these fans have shouted since about Torres losing the match for FCD, but I say this, one man cannot lose a match on his own, but one man can influence the outcome of the match by his decisions.  Torres did not lose this match for FCD, Coach Hyndman did!  If Hyndman had inserted his strongest defender, Kyle Davies who was still on the bench, the defense would have been stronger and may not have given up the goals to allow RSL back in.  But like Torres, Hyndman has shown his lack of skill in the Professional rankings of soccer by not making changes at the right time, at this point still only one sub made for injury, and not changing tactics when what you are doing is obviously not working.  Was the own goal Torres fault?  Partially by being out of position, but the allowance of the previous two goals, not all his fault.  So for the FCD fans who want to blame the whole match on Torres, wise up!  Hyndman has not been good for this team since he has come into the league and will only get worse as time goes on and he is allowed to make the decisions.  Ship him back to the college ranks already.  He understands the game there and can be a value to their young players, but he has lost the plot in the MLS and should be handed his walking papers quickly before the team completely dies without hope of resurrection.

Now back to the match.  Shortly after this own goal by Torres, Coach Hyndman finally decides to bring in all-around utility player Brek Shea, in the 90th minute.  Now while Shea is a good young player with promise for the future, I would not put much hope in him being your savior with stoppage time to go.  Shortly after his introduction though, FCD defender Drew Moor, would take out his frustration on Beltran from RSL earning him a direct red card and suspension.  This was a brutal tackle that should earn Moor a good suspension and maybe even fine, but I cannot blame him for being frustrated, maybe this was his way out for a bit as he will now miss at least one game and maybe more depending on the MLS.  The tackle was reckless and dangerous and should find him paying a heavy penalty, and I am surprised we have not seen it from an FCD player earlier in the season.

So after Moor leave the pitch there are 4 minutes of stoppage time left and RSL find themselves with a scoring chance again.  This time Movsisyan gets free behind the defense for another one on one with Ray Burse, catching Burse out of position, and putting the ball across Burse into the backside of the net, closing off any hope for FCD to come back in this match.

Tough loss for the players and the fans, but it just goes to show you what we are dealing with in Dallas.  Fire the Coach, rework the front office, change owners, and let’s see what can happen.  This season is a wash for FCD so bring in the youngsters and let’s let them get some practice and experience in live MLS matches.

Game Stats

Starting Lineups

RSL: Rimando (K), Russell(D), Olave (D), Wingert (D), Borchers (D), Grabavoy (M), Morales (M), Mathis (M), Johnson (M), Espindola (F), Findley (F)

Subs: Beltran (10 for Russell), Williams (90 for Mathis), Movsisyan (45 for Grabavoy), Seitz, Alexandre, Cox, Campos

Coach: Jason Kreis

FCD: Burse (K), Benitez (D), Richetti (D), John (D), Moor (D), Rocha (M), Van den Bergh (M), McCarty (M), Harris (M), Ferriera (M), Cunningham (F)

Subs: Torres (45 for John), Shea (90 for Rocha), Davies, Sala, Avila, Guarda, Wagner

Coach: Schellas Hyndman


RSL: Movsisyan (55, 90), Findley (62)

FCD: Cunningham (7), Van den Bergh (21), Torres (OG in 88)


Red Cards: Coach Kreis (RSL, 75), Drew Moor (FCD, 90)

Yellow Cards

RSL: Espindola (29), Borchers (35), Johnson (72), Olave (77)

FCD: Van den Bergh (61), Burse (62), Richetti (78)


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