FC Dallas goes into Saturday’s matchup against Seattle with a chance to make some unpleasant history: a loss or draw would mark 2024 as the worst opening 7 games in club history.

With the team up against this kind of infamy, let’s look back at the two worst seasons in club history, 2003 and 2021, and see how 2024 compares so far.


2003

The 2003 season will always live in infamy in the history of FC Dallas and the Dallas Burn. Citing unsustainable costs, the team abandoned their original home of the Cotton Bowl to play in Dragon Stadium in Southlake, a high school football stadium that featured garish football lines, a terrible turf surface, and pitiful amenities for fans. After making the playoffs in all of their first 7 seasons, the Burn fell off in disastrous fashion, earning the club its only Wooden Spoon (as the award for worst team in the league is now known) and finishing with just 23 points from 30 games for an awful 0.77 points per game. Team talisman Jason Kreis suffered a season-ending injury relatively early in the season and still managed to finish as the team’s top scorer – with just 7 goals. On top of the disaster in MLS play, the Burn were knocked out by lower-league opposition in their first Open Cup match against the Wilmington Hammerheads. Unsurprisingly, head coach Mike Jeffries did not make it to the end of the season, being replaced by Colin Clarke before the season’s end.

There was no point in 2003 where the Burn did well. At no point in the season did they manage to earn two positive results in a row. But, amazingly, the beginning of the season was maybe the least bad. After 6 games, the Burn had 3 points, with three draws and three losses. The seventh game, at home against DC United, was their first win of the season (they’d only record 5 more in the remaining 23 games), which brought them to a total of 6 points through 7 games. It’s a poor record, to be sure, but not exactly disastrously bad (it should be noted that the Burn managed to lose four games straight on two different occasions in 2003, something the 2024 team has already done once so far).


2021

The 2021 season was not the absolute disaster of 2003 by any means. The team had not moved to a horrible location and was not clearly doomed from the start. They were not the worst team in MLS, and, unlike in 2003, there were at least some signs of hope in the form of young, talented players like Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, and Nkosi Tafari. But make no mistake, 2021 was bad, the second worst season in club history and the only other season besides 2003 where the club earned less than one point per game, finishing with 33 points from 34 games for 0.91 PPG. Much like in 2003, the head coach, this time beloved former academy director Luchi Gonzalez, did not finish the season.

Unlike 2003, the 2021 team was capable of scoring goals, finishing with a very respectable 47 goals scored (the ’03 team only managed 35). But much like 2003, the team struggled defensively, allowing 56 goals, one of the worst totals in the league (the ’03 team conceded a staggering 64 goals). The team started the season poorly but not in disastrous form. They picked up their first point in the opening game, a dreadfully boring 0-0 draw against the Rapids at home, and then got their first win in game number three against Portland (it should be noted that Portland played in CCL that year and was massively rotated). They managed another couple of home draws (a common theme in 2021) in games 4 and 6 before getting blasted by Colorado for their worst loss of the season in the 7th game, giving them 6 points through 7 games.


2024

So, that’s the benchmark: 6 points through 7 games. Both the 2003 and 2021 teams were at that mark after their first 7 games of those respective seasons. The 2024 team has already avoided one new record for incompetence by earning a draw against St Louis and avoiding the first five-game losing streak in club history. Unlike either 2003 or 2021, they started the season with a win, but after reeling off four straight losses and then grinding a draw in St Louis, they sit on 5 points after 6 games, a better tally than the 2003 team (4) but lower than 2021 (6). So, it is a pretty simple equation: if they can beat Seattle (who, after their own very poor start, beat Montreal 5-0 last weekend), they’ll avoid the worst seven-game start in the club’s history. If they lose or draw, they’ll earn themselves a new record of infamy in club history.

Obviously, we’re just looking at results here; this isn’t a massive deep dive into all the similarities and differences between these seasons. But the obvious similarity thus far with both teams are the defensive frailties. Before their clean sheet in St Louis, Dallas was conceding 2 goals per game and still sits as one of the worst defensive teams in MLS in the early part of the season. Pretty consistently through their history, Dallas teams that aren’t able to defend well end up performing poorly. Dallas has rarely been able to generate the offensive firepower to overcome poor defensive play throughout their history, and, to this point, “firepower” has certainly not been a way to describe FC Dallas’ offensive capabilities in 2024.


Make no mistake; Dallas is in a bad spot right now. The good news is that it is early in the season, so there is a ton of time for the Burn to turn the ship around and make the slow, long march back up the table.

But things need to change quickly, and it would be a huge relief if this team could avoid entering the record books as the worst team across the first seven games in club history.


Will FCD avoid the record books and pull off a win against Seattle this weekend?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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