Defense Biggest Weakness In Early Season Grades For FC Dallas


As an FC Dallas fan, it’s hard to draw many conclusions from what has been a relatively up and down first eight games of the season.

With three wins in the first three games to start the campaign, the ceiling seemed awfully high for this FCD squad. Even the 0-0 draw against Seattle in the fourth game of the year felt more like a win after going down to ten men in the first half.

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As high as that early season feeling was, the following two games felt remarkably low in comparison. Embarrassing losses away to Portland and home to Colorado seemed to ground expectations and remind the world that, as young and talented as FC Dallas is, the young part can still be problematic.

Even with the ups and downs, Dallas still has a chance to go top of the Western Conference with a win in their next game. Second place through eight games, despite how they got there, has to be a positive for FC Dallas this early in the season.

Here, we take a look at the four areas of the pitch and hand out grades based on the first eight games of the season.

Goalkeeping: B+ 

Apr 18, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; FC Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz (18) faces the Toronto FC attack at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas defeats Toronto FC 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In the two losses that FC Dallas has suffered this year, they gave up a total of 7 goals. In the other 6 games, they gave up a combined 5 goals. When you look at the two losses, neither of them were the fault of the goalkeeping, if you ask me. In each, defensive frailties in the defense and the midfield left Chris Seitz more vulnerable than he deserved.

Seitz has proved an incredible asset in goal this season. With the arrival of Dan Kennedy, many expected much more competition than what has played out through the start of the year. However, nagging injuries have only seen Kennedy start one game this season, starring in Friday’s 1-1 draw away to Colorado.

With Kennedy’s strong performance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more competition in the coming weeks. Regardless of who’s between the sticks, the goalkeeping position will continue to be a strength for this squad.

Defense: B- 

The defense has been the most suspect of all the areas of this FCD squad, particularly at the fullback position. Pareja started the season with Hernandez and Atiba Harris as the left and right backs, respectively. Early contract negotiations left Je-Vaughn Watson out of the squad, which dramatically hindered the cohesion of the back line.

Coupled with the less than stellar performances from the fullbacks, the inconsistency at the center back position, which was a bedrock of FC Dallas’ run to the playoffs last season, has kept this team from being as defensively solid as they can be. Walker Zimmerman certainly has the makings of a talented center back, but, back to my earlier point, he is still so young.

If this FCD team wants to make it farther into the postseason than they did last season, the defense must be more consistent. For me, that has to start at the fullback position. If the fullbacks are performing better, that means Zach Loyd can play more frequently alongside Hedges at center back. That would lead to a much more united back four and a few more clean sheets.

Midfield: B 

Apr 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Ryan Hollingshead (12) passes the ball during the game against the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The midfield has been a mixed bag of great performances and alarming trends. For instance, the rise of Ryan Hollingshead and the steady play of Victor Ulloa have been positive sparks in the midfield for FC Dallas. However, the defensive ineptitudes of Michel and the troubling displays by Mauro Diaz have been difficult to stomach.

Diaz in particular has been extremely disappointing. So much hype around Diaz has inadvertently led to criticism around the Argentinian maestro. He has one goal (which was really the product of an incredible run by Castillo) and zero assists. For a player of Diaz’s quality, that’s pretty discouraging. He’s only played four games, which is also equally discouraging.

Attack: A- 

Apr 18, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; FC Dallas forward Fabian Castillo (11) celebrates his goal against Toronto FC during the game at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas defeats Toronto FC 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As a general rule, the attack has not been an issue for FC Dallas this year. Between the early successes of the “old man” Blas Perez and the “young gun” Fabian Castillo, there have been sparkling moments of brilliance in the FCD attack.

Outside of the two of them, not a whole lot has gone right in attack. I shutter to think what a game would look like without the two of them leading the charge. Texeira, despite his promise, has proven toothless in front of goal (zero shots on goal in two starts is pretty pathetic), and Michael Barrios hasn’t quite gotten his feet under him yet.

Tesho is still Tesho and has put in some valuable performances so far this season. He provides a bit more technicality on the wing than Castillo does, which creates a perfect balance. You have one guy who can beat anyone off the dribble and another with the intelligence to outsmart a defender. Combine those two with a Panamanian monster in the middle, you get a pretty solid attacking trio.

Next: Rain? No problem for FCD.