FRISCO, Texas - If you don’t allow a goal, it doesn’t take a whole lot of offense to win games. And if you do get that offense, look out.
It’s an extremely simple philosophy, but it’s at the heart of Dallas’ franchise-record start to the 2013 campaign. Through Saturday’s win over Vancouver, Dallas has allowed just seven goals, a franchise-low through eight games, and their five shutouts is the most in team history through eight games as well.
While FCD is tied for the MLS lead in goals scored, it’s the end-to-end defensive mentality that has them at the top of the league.
“It’s just team defense, as simple as that,” said George John after Saturday’s win. “We’ve got a strong back four, and a strong goalkeeper, but everyone on the team from the midfield to the front is working hard to shut down the opposing team and it’s paid off with the shutouts.”
Schellas Hyndman echoed John’s thoughts, noting that while the back four are the last line of defense, true defending starts well up the pitch.
“A lot of things get broken up in the midfield before it gets to our defense by Andrew Jacobson and Michel,” Hyndman said on Saturday. “Kenny [Cooper] is working hard. Jackson’s working hard. It’s harder to break us down.”
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the early-season defense has been how Dallas has smothered opponents through the first hour of matches. Despite leading the league with six goals allowed in the last 15 minutes, FCD has yet to allow a goal in the first hour of any game this season, a stunning statistic.
“Shape-wise we’re doing well and I think a lot of it is the guys in front of us staying with the block of six and then the four in front of us doing a great job,” said Andrew Jacobson. “It’s really just a collective effort right now between us defending and doing well with the ball.”
One of the biggest criticisms in the first few games - a lack of communication between goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and his defenders - seems to be inevitably improving as well.
“It’s communication between our goalkeeper and our defense improving every game,” said Hyndman. “The coordination between the back four and the midfield is good.”
Despite some minor hiccups, John, Fernandez and Matt Hedges have proven to be a formidable triangle at the back, and with a team around them fully committed to getting the ball, a run at the 2011 franchise record of 13 shutouts in a season certainly doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility.
“I think our communication every game has been getting better and better,” said Hedges. “When we start communicating well, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of teams that can get chances against us.”