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Rick Yeatts/Major League Soccer

The Soap Box: FCD waiting for a breakout

Doubters be damned, FC Dallas finally have their first win of the season. Schellas Hyndman’s group was one of the biggest mysteries in the league during the first month of the season, and the club’s 1-0 win over Houston on Wednesday did little to solve the puzzle if the Hoops are actually for real.

Dana Crane believes they are. The head of the Inferno supporters group takes to the Soap Box this week to talk all things Texas, including her team’s need for a striker, Eric Avilla’s potential breakthrough and what the club’s doing right to brings fans into Pizza Hut Park. Has it been a frustrating first few weeks of the season in Dallas?

DC: Honestly, we’ve been calling it the “season of the crossbar” among the supporters group, because it feels like we’ve hit the bar or the post at least 30 times this season. But that being said, the team’s been playing some really entertaining soccer, despite not getting the results that we expected. We’ve been dominating on the field, and it’s so enjoying to watch them play that attacking style of soccer. A lot of the teams in MLS are built around a defensive style, and it’s been fun to watch them play this way. Is there one game that got away from you guys?

DC: The New York game. To have lost that one, to not even get a point out of it, that was disappointing. We had so many more shots on goal and so many near-misses, to come out on the losing end of that one probably stung the most. Half of our editors think FCD are underrated. Agree?

DC: Probably. We know we’re not getting the results, but we’re playing that attacking soccer and they’re not giving up a lot. We’re just not getting the calls or the results we would like, and we’re still one or two pieces away from being a real contender. Still, you can’t ever really count us out. There’s a fire in the belly with this team and there’s a chemistry on the field that can really be felt in the stands. They have a” never day die” attitude, and because of that, I don’t think you can look past them. What’s the one piece you need?

DC: We definitely need something on the striker end of things. Because as great as Jeff Cunningham is, he needs someone to push him and to work with him. What do you make of Cunningham this season?

DC: With strikers, they get streaky. Like Edson Buddle out in LA, Jeff’s sort of like him. He goes through this hot streak and then there’s a slump. When he got a PK against Seattle, he took it with such conviction that I thought it might open the floodgates for him, but we still need to see him get a run-of-play goal. I think once he and the rest of the team starts hitting those shots that are hitting the side of the net now, there’s going to be no stopping them. Is there one player people outside Dallas should know?

DC: Eric Avila. He’s kind of been a super-sub for us, but we’re looking for him to get some more minutes, because as soon as he steps on the field the dynamic changes. That creative style he has adds another element to the attack game, and that frees up David Ferreira and Dax McCarty to work off the ball and get some better service inside. Of the young guys, Avila is probably the most fun to watch. What do you make of the atmosphere at Pizza Hut Park?

DC: I moved out here from Seattle about eight years ago, and started hanging out with the Inferno in 2005. And getting used to the Dallas sports culture down here, this is definitely a bandwagon town. And that even goes for the vaunted Dallas Cowboys. Having the stadium located where it was initially was was really a deterrent for some people, and I think that a lot of people who were deterred back then haven’t made the effort to come to the new stadium. But there has been a change in the front office; you can see they’re starting to embrace the supporters’ culture and market the team towards us. For a while it felt like an FC Disney thing, where they were always marketing to kids and families. This year there’s a real effort to market the team to the 18-30 year-old male demographic. I think now you’re seeing that the people who are there – even if it’s only 8,000 people – are actually watching the game. In the past, we might have had only 5,000 out of a crowd of 14,000 people watching the game. I think it’s a big step in the right direction, but it’s going to take a while for this new marketing tactic to pay off. You have D.C. United this week. Tell me why you’re going to win this one.

DC: Coming off the win at Houston, I think we have a lot of momentum going. We’re trying to build something up here, turning those ties into wins. All we can do it play the cards that we’ve been playing, and hopefully those shots start going our way. The end of the “season of the crossbar?”

DC: I hope so. It’s only a matter of time.