Well, unfortunately, the playoffs are set. Instead of sitting comfortably in their armchairs enjoying a nice beverage on Wednesday night, FC Dallas will host the Vancouver Whitecaps at the Toyota Stadium. The game is a winner-take-all, one game play-in for the final spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
FCD had a chance to secure their armchair position this past weekend at home to the Portland Timbers. They needed a win (what would have been their ninth home win in a row) to lock in the third place spot and ensure that their Wednesday night was spent watching film rather than creating it.
Thanks to a lackluster, individualistic performance Saturday night, FCD has instead put themselves up against a challenging Vancouver side that will be looking to steal the fourth and final playoff spot from a reeling FC Dallas squad.
The team did little to excite the packed house in Frisco with their performance on Saturday night. Unfortunately, our dependence on the individual brilliance of our fast attackers and lack of collective effort caught up to us. For me, the only player in our attack with the right instincts is Blas Perez. When he gets the ball at the top of the box, he looks to make one move and go directly toward goal.
The rest of the team, however, lacks the kind of organization to get into a position where Blas can receive that pass. We break out of the midfield on a solo run and live and die by our wingers’ ability to beat someone one-on-one. It’s not the type of team play that wins championships. It’s the type of individual play that scores incredible goals but lacks a collective ability.
Now don’t get me wrong, we are statistically the best one-on-one team in the MLS. More than any other team, FCD attackers have beaten their man in those types of situations. However, I want to see the stat that shows how often we try to beat our man one-on-one. My guess: it’s way too often. Escobar and Castillo have tremendous pace, but they need the linkup play of other attackers so that they have an outlet when their deep runs stall.
If we do manage to beat Vancouver on Wednesday, we will then face the number one seed in the Western Conference, the Seattle Sounders, led by the attacking duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins. Dempsey and Martins are a great example of how an attacking partnership can be used to yield the greatest impact for the team. Both players are incredibly talented and quick on the ball.
However, Seattle’s best performances this year (look no farther than their 2-0 win over LA to clinch the Supporter’s Shield) have been when Martins and Dempsey have combined to create chances for one another and for their team.
Dallas needs to take a page out of Seattle’s book. If there is any way that we are going to do anything in the playoffs, the offensive organization has to be better. It simply has to.
We might be able to squeak out a win on Wednesday or maybe a single game against Seattle with these tactics, but trying to ride spectacular individual performances through a fiercely competitive postseason is reminiscent of what Argentina tried to do in the World Cup. You can only rely on your ringer for so long before a more organized team comes in and stifles you.
Vancouver will look to play the stifling role on Wednesday. Unfortunately for us, we don’t quite have the type of ringer Argentina does. But hey, Argentina lost. Maybe, according to the previous two sentences, that means FCD will win. Having a hard time following that logic? Me, too. Then again, maybe everything else I’ve said will play out and Dallas’ run of luck will end, along with its playoff hopes against a more collective team in Vancouver.
You see what I did there? Either way, my prediction is right. I win! Does that mean FCD will win? That remains to be seen, but not if they play the individual type of soccer they played on Saturday night.