DALSportsNation

It is all calm and quiet on all Hallow’s Eve as there is not a sound to be heard. Okay, maybe not all is calm and quiet. FC Dallas will open their 2018 MLS Playoffs on Halloween. Los Toros didn’t end the season in the most spectacular fashion with only being 1-1-3 (W-D-L) in their last 5 games with ending the season with 3 straight losses. Obviously, not the ideal way to end the season. So FC Dallas takes on the Portland Timbers and many are asking, “What are we supposed to make of this team”? Well, here are some thoughts.

Negatives

In the worst case scenario, FC Dallas losses and the season comes to end before making it to November. If FC Dallas losses, it will most definitely be a disappointing season where we were serious contenders all season long and holding a top 2 spot for the majority of the season.

I’m going to go ahead and say that finishing will haunt us and many will have finished watching the game and proceed to grab their pitchforks and torches (assuming that these items are not part of your Halloween costume) and ask for a striker or anybody that can put the ball in the back of the net consistently. Sure we have goal-scoring leaders but not “the 10+ goalscorer”.

The team just doesn’t know how to play in big games. When we went to DC, it was an expected loss, to be honest, but we lost that game due to a simple mistake. We lost to SKC off of 3 simple mistakes. We lost to the Rapids because we looked to complacent. We only got 1 point out of 12 possible points from the two worst teams in the league (Colorado and San Jose). Ouch! There were many games throughout the season where simple lapses in concentration cost us points as well (Vancouver at home?).

Maybe we are just unlucky and there is some curse of FC Dallas (you know, like the Las Vegas nights and Imagine Dragons…) How spooky and fitting for a playoff game that is on Halloween.

In a league where playoffs decides your “champion” (or if you prefer the Supporters Shield, that a different story) then having “good” momentum is a must. A 3 game losing streak isn’t what you want at all and this doesn’t bode well for the team either.

Positives

The best case scenario is where FC Dallas wins! This isn’t too much of a far-fetched thing as the Huntsmen are 10-5-2 (W-D-L) at home. Additionally, FC Dallas is unbeaten at home in the playoffs under Oscar Pareja (3-2-0). The last time FC Dallas played a one-off playoff game was in 2014 (Papi’s first season) against Vancouver that was a 2-1 win. So history is on our side and when it comes to soccer, history is something that you do want to have on your side.

Portland hasn’t been so hot on the road as they are 4-5-8 this season and are coming off of a very disappointing road loss to Vancouver. Portland and FC Dallas have drawn their games this season which is a plus as well.

In terms of momentum, the “ending of the game” momentum is in FC Dallas’ favor. Throughout the season FC Dallas has improved, visually and statistically, when it comes to closing out games. The players play with the passion and intensity when they are down and try to pull a result back in their favor, and know how to shut down a game when they need to. Again, let me say that this is the case when it comes to closing and finishing games. Everything before that is up in the air.

Going off of passion and intensity, that is something that Pareja and the coaching staff have done a great job this year. They have gotten their players to show more passion this year. They play with passion on the field and look like they want to do better. They high-five each other or hold each other accountable on the field. They literally care and pick each other up when they are going through a rough patch. FC Dallas’ very own Cristian Colman who greats such a split in the fanbase has the teams support shown by Santi and Maxi celebrating with his jersey in the game right after he had an ACL tear. This team has fun with each other and that carries onto the pitch.

Its kinda hard to back this up but you can see it in practice. Papi goes at these players very hard and works them and makes them earn their pay. Papi cares about this team as much as any fan does. His passion and love for the team are very visible in practice but you don’t see it in public and I think that’s because he wants to keep a boundary between his team and his professionalism. This team is like his family and he cares for the team. He housed Fabian Castillo in his early time with the team! Papi truly wants to do what is best for this team and at times he can be stubborn when it comes to changing some things but just like how we fans can be stubborn when it comes to doing something for the best interest, Papi can be the same.

These players are humans just like you and I and they have feelings and emotions. Reggie plays with so much love for the game for example and you can’t ask for more. The team doesn’t need people to tell them that this game is a must win. They know that.

What is cool is that this is the magic of the playoffs. Some of us may not like it but anything can happen. FC Dallas has every chance to win MLS Cup just as much as any other team. Here’s my favorite fan “fact” (okay, this may not be a fact). FC Dallas is no longer favorites to win MLS Cup. They are back under the radar. This is when FC Dallas does their best: when no one expects them to do so. This is a season where everyone thought that this would be a rebuilding season and it wasn’t. Honestly, we just had a bad last 3 games to the season. It was still a great season. FC Dallas has the pieces this year to get them deep in the playoffs than when they were in the same position in 2014.

Papi and this team can get there to the final and get the job done. As cheesy and annoying it can be, this year’s playoff motto is very fitting. Believe. The team believes, Papi believes, the Front Office believes, the City of Frisco in a tweet yesterday believes (the City of Frisco is rallying around this team! We are getting some recognition!),

and I believe. There’s nothing wrong with hoping and believing in this team. Sure they could lose and that’s the end of the season, the media will be sad and go on their anger rants, though we got to take a step back. Isn’t this why we love sports and the beautiful game? We don’t know what is going to happen but we support our team no matter how much disdain we give it. It consumes us and gives a place to escape this word. We love this game because we believe.


Photo: Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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