ASK THE EXPERTS: Assessing What Went Wrong in 2018

FRISCO - The 2018 offseason is nearly two weeks old for FC Dallas and as we move towards 2019, we've enlisted the help of some of the most familiar media members covering the club to assess and look ahead. 

In the first of four pieces, we asked the simple question: What happened in 2018?

Steve Davis - National MLS Writer and FCD Color Analyst

Two things, basically, in my opinion. First, FC Dallas operated on “small margins” all season. That is, there were always only small margins for error. Even then, to finish 4th of 12 in the West, in my mind, speaks to Oscar Pareja’s ongoing ability to get a lot from his rosters.

Near the end of the season, two things went wrong as the results waned. Not horribly wrong, but just enough – which is where we get into those “small margins.” The attack dried up just a bit, as the streaky players such as Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti and Roland Lamah all went just a little cold at the same time. About then, members of the defense made a few mistakes. Combine a few of those mistakes – Matt Hedges giving up a PK, Reggie Cannon giving Portland a free kick in a dangerous spot, Victor Ulloa beaten at the back post, Jesse Gonzalez not always being in tip-top form, etc. – with an offense that wasn’t performing at top rev, and there just wasn’t much of a safety net.

Second, and probably more importantly, Dallas just didn’t have a difference-maker once Mauro Diaz left. Dallas was 10-2-5 in all competitions with Diaz on the roster (even though he didn’t play in all of those matches). Once FCD sold their playmaker and most creative influence, the team won just 8 of its next 22 matches in all competitions (an 8-10-4 record.) Is that bad? It’s not awful – but it IS only average. In my opinion, once Diaz left the team, that’s more or less what Dallas became, an average MLS team. Not good, not bad, but nothing special.

Jon Arnold - Dallas Morning News and

It was more about what didn't happen, right? That was scoring goals. I also think there was a mental slip toward the end of the year. Frustrations really looked to boil over and have an affect on players in the second half against Kansas City. After conceding in Colorado, I didn't see the spark a team needs to show to get back in front and escape the Knockout Round.

Mark Followill - FCD Play-by-Play 

It's pretty apparent, the lack of goal scoring from open play was a primary contributor to this team's early exit. Three goals in the run of play in the last nine regular season and playoff matches won't cut it. I would add that unfortunately for all of the good games and performances in the last four years, FC Dallas has had too much trouble with San Jose and Colorado. With all due respect to those two clubs, for the most part in the last 4 or 5 seasons, they have been among the worst in the West. However every season, FCD struggles more against them than they should and the dropped points come back to bite them in terms of table position and I'm speaking about many more results than just the disappointing season finale in Colorado. Everyone trips up, but they are tripping up far too frequently against those particular clubs. Whether or not the Quakes and Rapids represent the conference's bottom feeders next year remains to be seen but FC Dallas needs to be better against whomever that caliber of opponent is next season.

Carlos Alvarado - Spanish Radio Play-by-Play

I guess when you keep a team in first place like we did it almost the entire season, it is so difficult to imagine that in the last game everything can change. This could have happened after the game at D.C., where the team was concentrated on the two first spots in the West and spent a lot of energy mentally and physically to avoid the Knockout Round. Meanwhile, teams like Portland were clear about what they were waiting for and rested its best lineup in the last game. Dallas have normally had that problem almost around the middle of the season, when you have time and many games to come back.