Reason for the swoon of FC Dallas

COMMERCE CITY, CO - JULY 23: Sam Cronin /

Coming into this season, FC Dallas was one of the favorites to win the western conference regular season for the second year in a row and contend for the MLS Cup. But after a winless August, they are now fighting just to make the playoffs at all.

On July 29th, FC Dallas sat in the first spot in the west as they looked to fend off Sporting KC and others for that spot. They welcomed the Vancouver Whitecaps to Toyota Stadium, where they had not lost a single point to the Canadian side in seven meetings. That night, Vancouver dismantled FC Dallas 4-0 and things have gotten out of control since.

That night, FC Dallas goaltender Jesse Gonzalez looked like a turnstile as he was beaten multiple times and FC Dallas was able to produce chances. You knew it just wasn’t their night when Max Urruti got a rebound from point-blank range and couldn’t put it home.

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Over the next few weeks, FC Dallas lost to the Philadelphia Union 3-1, Sporting KC 2-0, the Columbus Crew 2-1 and got draws with the Colorado Rapids 0-0, Houston Dynamo 3-3 and New York Red Bulls 2-2 for their only three points they’ve earned since July 22nd when they defeated the Montreal Impact.

What’s the problem?

Gonzalez has been a big reason for the struggles of the club. Before the Vancouver game his save percentage was around 79% for the year but since then has dropped to 67.5%. Up until that night Gonzalez had been one of the bright spots for the club, with his signature performance coming against MLS leading Toronto FC in which he stopped five of six shots on goal in a 3-1 win.

Including the game against Vancouver, he has allowed multiple goals in five of six games. The rest of the season before that point he had only allowed multiple goals four times.

It does not help that the defense has been inconsistent lately, allowing 15 shots on goal against the Dynamo and Sporting. But even when the defense only allowed two shots on goal against the Crew Gonzalez let both of them in.

The funny thing is, after defeating Toronto FC starting defenseman Walker Zimmerman returned from injury and after beating eastern bottom feeders Montreal and DC; the skid started with him back in the lineup.

The offense has done their part generating shots on goal. Against Philadelphia, FC Dallas generated ten shots on goal but only one went in. Against Colorado they had six, Houston seven and Columbus five. The offense is generating opportunities, perhaps they could do better at converting them but if you score three goals you should win bottom line; not split the points.

Including the game against Vancouver, FC Dallas has allowed 16 of their 35 goals on the season since July 29. For a team without a ton of offensive firepower (Urruti has 12 goals this year and emergent midfielder Ronald Lamah has eight, which is over half of their 39 goals on the season) the defense and goaltending must be on point for this team to contend.

Forecast for the rest of the year

The good news for FC Dallas is the schedule lightens up a bit as they enter the home stretch of the season. After games at Atlanta United and home to Seattle, FC Dallas goes to Minnesota, hosts Colorado, goes to Orlando then Colorado and Seattle before concluding the season at home against the lowly LA Galaxy.

Furthermore, FC Dallas is just five points behind the Sounders for the top spot in the west as they sit at sixth. So there is still ample opportunity for teams to move up and down. With their schedule, I expect FC Dallas to make the playoffs as they still have games in hand over the teams chasing them (Real Salt Lake and San Jose) as well as top teams Seattle and Portland.