FC Dallas Improving After Rough Start During Strange Season
San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski reacts during the second half of the team's MLS soccer match against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)
The coronavirus shutdown, positive tests and then a spate of injuries. The 2020 season has been challenging to say the least for FC Dallas.
Goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer, himself coming off an injury, has the perspective of a player who has seen it all. The 31-year-old’s career includes a brief stop in Chile and a stint with the lower-tier New York Cosmos before ultimately landing in Dallas in 2017.
Sure, theres been times of being cut from teams, being released from preseasons, getting drafted and then getting released, being in clubs where its going months without getting paid, playing in South America and the team got relegated some crushing stuff that Ive lived through,” Maurer said. “Thats just all part of the sport and makes you stronger. Hopefully in some way, its helped me continue to grow and thats all we can try and do with this years situations as well.”
FC Dallas opened the season looking to improve after its first-round elimination from the playoffs last year. Jesus Ferreira, the son of MLS MVP David Ferreira, was expected to build on his team-best eight goals in 2019.
But just two games into the season, MLS was shuttered because of the coronavirus.
Then while the league returned to play the MLS is Back tournament in the bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida, FC Dallas was forced to withdraw because of positive COVID-19 tests. Nashville SC also withdrew.
MLS has restarted the regular season with teams in local markets. Because the MLS is Back group stage counted toward the regular season, Dallas and Nashville are playing each other three times this season to make up the difference.
Then the injuries started to mount.
At one point, Dallas was missing midfielder Bryan Acosta because of a quad injury, defender Matt Hedges was in concussion protocol, Fafa Picault had a hamstring injury and Maurer had injured his calf. Maurer, Hedges and Picault have since returned to the starting lineup.
So yes, it’s been strange.
I havent really been thinking too much retrospectively, but its just been a crazy year for everyone. Just a lot of stops and starts, a lot of ups and downs. From beginning of the year, to the shutdown, to going to Orlando, being excited to play those games and then that getting shut down for us as this club, and getting the games going again. And then my own personal injury and I had to be shut down,” Maurer said. So, yeah, its just been a lot of stops and starts.
Despite the turbulence, Dallas has won three of its last four matches and sits in fourth place in the Western Conference. Atlanta United ended the team’s three-game winning streak with a 1-0 victory Wednesday night.
One reason for the success is Franco Jara, who leads the team with five goals since coming to Dallas from Mexicos Pachuca in July. Another is defense: Dallas has only allowed 13 goals.
The key for coach Luchi Gonzalez with 11 games left in the regular season is managing the compact schedule.
I know weve gotten some results recently, but we want to improve in performance and what we want to do with the ball, how we want to control games in the midfield, our presses, Gonzalez said. Theres a lot of things that we are excited to keep working on and improving.
HE AIN’T HEAVY
The Portland Timbers’ match against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night marked the first time two sets of brothers played against each other in MLS history: Yimmi and Diego Chara for Portland, and Alex and Cristian Roldan for Seattle, were all on the field for a time in the second half.
The Timbers won, 1-0, on Yimmi Chara’s goal.
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY, SAN JOSE?
The San Jose Earthquakes are struggling. Badly. On Wednesday night the Quakes lost 5-0 to the Colorado Rapids.
Opposing teams have scored five or more goals on the Earthquakes five times in 13 games this season. San Jose has given up 11 goals in the past two games alone. In total, the team has allowed 38 goals in those 13 games.
I mean, to be honest, I think it can only go up from here, said forward Chris Wondolowski. “It will go up. I think that we can go up. We have the belief. We have the talent. We have the desire at times. Its putting it all together and executing it all out there.
It goes without saying that coach Matias Almeyda is on the hot seat. But Wondolowski said the players need to take responsibility.
We’re professionals, We get paid to do this. This is our job, Wondowlowski said. You need to be better. You have to be better. I feel that sometimes we like to pass the buck, ‘It’s not our fault, it’s this guy, or this guy.’ Each and every one of us needs to look in the mirror and do better.
Tori Penso was the head referee for Wednesday night’s match between D.C. United and Nashville, becoming the first woman center referee for an MLS match since Sandy Hunt on May 13, 2000.
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