Saturday night’s 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena was a disheartening result for FC Dallas on many levels. FCD clearly outplayed the home side for much of the evening, yet all they had to show for their numerous offensive chances was a header by Dax McCarty in the 10th minute that put the visitors ahead 1-0.
While the FCD defense did a good job for much of the night of limiting the Red Bull attack, they did also give up a pair of penalty kicks. FCD goalkeeper Dario Sala saved the first attempt from Juan Pablo Angel but wasn’t so lucky on the second one near the end of full time. Angel converted the game winner after a somewhat controversial PK was awarded when New York’s Sinisa Ubiparipovic was taken down on the very edge of the box.
After training on Monday, FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said he was still trying to reconcile what happened two days ago in the Garden State.
“I tried to watch the video of the game right after the game to have some better perspective and I haven’t been able to do that yet because it’s still pretty painful,” Hyndman said. “The team met today and we went through a few things. We had about 30 minutes of team talk -- reviewing the game, the season, the expectations and so forth.”
For the most part, the FCD coach liked what he saw in the opening half of play.
“I thought we really started off well. I thought the first 10 minutes we couldn’t have done or expected more from the players except for the finishing,” Hyndman said. “The opportunities are there. We’re playing attractive soccer, attacking with great numbers but the final shot, the final pass, it just doesn’t seem to connect right now. We kept on breaking out and had more and more chances.”
His club clearly carried that forward into the final frame, an improvement on something the squad had been criticized for following their tie against Columbus.
“Second half, I thought we really came out well. We hit the post a couple of times and follow-ups could have been on finishing,” Hyndman said. “David (Ferreira) had a diving header off Atiba’s (free kick). Heath (Pearce) had one in front. And then to give up the goal, which was really a simple throw-in, we just didn’t focus. And then to give up a PK, I thought Zach Loyd played well. He left his feet but don’t know whether it was a PK or not a PK. When you leave your feet, you’re suspect to get a piece of the body.”
The FCD coach also elaborated on what exactly happened to set up Angel’s game-winning penalty kick.
“To give up the PK at the end on really a lack of concentration (is tough),” Hyndman said. “Ugo (Ihemelu) is coming over to take the throw-in because he always takes the throw-in on that side because Jair (Benitez) has probably got about an 18-yard throw-in, where Ugo has a 30-yard throw-in. And for whatever reason, Jair took it quickly.... I thought George (John) got fouled by (Macoumba) Kandji, so he couldn’t get the ball out of the box. And then Daniel (Hernandez) tried to get to Ubi (Paripovic), and I did see that video. It looked like it was right on the box, but the line is in the box. It was just one blunder or mistake after another.”
And it’s hard for Hyndman to contain his disappointment.
“A very disappointing loss because I thought our defense played really well. I thought our team played well,” he said. “It could have been a 5-0, 6-0 game. It could have been a blowout. Soccer is a funny game and a game of inches. When you have six or seven great chances and you don’t score on one of them, you can say their goalie was pretty good. He’s inconsistent. He can be very good or he can be very average and he was very good. Then, we just had some bad luck to go with it. Disappointed that we’ve given up three PKs in three games and disappointed we haven’t gotten the goals we need from key players.”
And while the FCD coach was largely pleased with his defense’s performance, he also realizes that the numbers don’t lie.
“When you look at it, we’ve given up five goals. When you say in three games, you’ve given up five goals, you can’t say we’ve done really well,” Hyndman said. “We’ve given up three PKs and two of the goals came from PKs... Maybe we need to consider how to manage the game a little better when we have a lead because right now, this team is offensive-minded and everyone is attacking.”
Hyndman also realizes that, regardless of on-pitch performance, FC Dallas is now one of only two MLS teams without a win (the other is DC United).
"At the end of the day, it’s all about results. We could be sitting realistically with nine points and today, we’re sitting with two. How much different would it have been if we had at least come back with one? We could say OK, we got a point on the road and we were unlucky. But we got nothing on the road and we can say we only got two points.
"It’s frustrating, but the good thing is we’re doing so many things so well, so early in the year, but the finishing needs to come.”
During the FCD broadcast, the announcing team commented that Jeff Cunningham in particular looked like a player who wasn’t playing with much confidence. Hyndman offered his own take on Monday.
“I think he’s a complicated person to figure out. He’s been around so long and he’s a proven goal scorer,” the FCD coach said. “You look at him and think it must be confidence. Maybe he’s thinking too much instead of trying to be natural. He’s a player that kind of wears his emotions on his sleeve. He’s not an easy player to counsel because if you say the wrong thing to him, he takes it the wrong way. So what you hope to do is have him come out of it. And then at some point in time, you have to look at someone else.
"This game coming up is a real opportunity for him to come out. We all know he can do it. It’s getting it done in practice. That’s where you build the confidence. If you can score four or five goals in practice, then that builds confidence for the game.”