FC Dallas's tumble is hard to wrap your mind around, and it's threatening to knock the would-be contender out of the MLS playoff picture altogether.
Even in the unpredictable, inscrutable world of MLS, the fact that FC Dallas is entering the 2017 stretch run on the league’s longest winless streak (by far) is a tough one to wrap your mind around.
A year ago, this was a team that looked like a sure thing to claim the first treble. The U.S. Open Cup and Supporters' Shield were in the bag. But then Mauro Díaz tore his Achilles and even though the Argentine playmaker returned to action this June, FCD has never been the same. The dynamism, creativity and chemistry has vanished, the defense has been poor and there was an obvious lack of steel and verve in Sunday’s 3-0 thumping by Atlanta United. Dallas had no answer to the hosts’ pace or pressure and now, without a win in eight games (0-5-3), its playoff prospects are under threat.
“We were short in energy and many other areas that we couldn’t match the game and our opponent,” Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said afterward.
This is the rested and relatively healthy Shield and Open Cup holder, overrun and overwhelmed by an expansion team. It’s a stunning fall.
But, this is MLS, so there remains plenty of opportunity to rise. FCD has the Seattle Sounders up next, and if there’s a team that knows anything about riding a late surge of momentum to glory, it’s the Rave Green.
As FCD clings to its playoff life and falls again in Planet Fútbol’s power ranking—and as Toronto FC makes its own run at the treble—here’s how MLS stacks up with six weeks to go in the regular season.
The Reds became the first team to clinch an MLS Cup playoff berth thanks to Saturday’s 4-0 rout of San Jose. TFC’s pace of 2.11 points per game is just a hair under the record of 2.13 set by the 1998 LA Galaxy (who didn’t win MLS Cup).
Yes, they lost at home. But the 1-0 defeat to Portland happened without an injured David Villa, and he’s pretty important. NYC remains the league’s second-best team and when Villa returns, he’ll be aiming to become the first MLS player with consecutive 20-goal regular seasons.
Seattle’s hold on third is tenuous. There is that 12-game unbeaten run, but the last three ended in draws and now forward Jordan Morris looks to be out for weeks with a hamstring injury. The Sounders face a desperate Dallas team this weekend.
On a 3-0-1 run and in first place by a point in the Western Conference, the Timbers are in good shape. And Diego Valeri now is a legitimate MVP candidate. He has goals in a record-tying seven consecutive league games.
Draws in Dallas and Chicago are decent results. But New York coach Jesse Marsch faces tough decisions Sunday as the desire to get back on the winning track against Philadelphia conflicts with the Open Cup final in Kansas City just three days later.
Speaking of the Open Cup final, SKC will get an extra day’s rest—it plays New England Saturday—and won’t have to travel. That doesn’t make Peter Vermes’ job easier, however. SKC has one win in five games and the race out West is tight.
What a Mercedes-Benz Stadium debut for Atlanta, which blitzed FC Dallas, 3-0, on Sunday. With games in hand and a home-heavy schedule, United is in good shape to become the first expansion team to make the playoffs since Seattle in ’09.
The Caps’ 3-0-1 stretch is their best in more than two years. Consistency has long been the issue for this team. But with the next three at home, starting Wednesday against Minnesota, Vancouver has a chance to get on a real roll.
The Crew’s five-game unbeaten run (3-0-2) is the third-longest in the league. The underrated Ola Kamara has goals in three straight games, and six in his past seven.
Beaten in Vancouver last weekend, RSL still has won two of three. And it’s 5-2-3 since July 4. That’s enough to stay in 10th. Fun trivia: 10th-year defender Tony Beltran scored his first MLS goal against the Whitecaps. It was his 254th career appearance.
The bleeding appears to have stopped thanks to four points in the past two games. More vital to a postseason run was seeing Nemanja Nikolic end a nine-game scoring drought with Chicago’s goal in the 1-1 tie with New York.
The Revs have quietly won five of their past eight and are now within four points of the last playoff spot in the East. It won’t matter, however, if they continue to stink on the road. New England is 0-10-3 away from Foxborough (every other MLS team has an away win) and visits Kansas City on Saturday.
Saturday’s loss to Colorado was the Dynamo’s first of the season at BBVA Compass Stadium. And now Houston is winless in three, with consecutive road games at San Jose and NYCFC coming up (they’re 1-8-5 on the road).
The Loons are on their third two-game unbeaten run and will look to hit three for the first time in Vancouver on Wednesday. Ethan Finlay has been rejuvenated by his move to Minnesota, and he’s sparked the club in turn. He’s been involved in all four MNU goals during his three starts, scoring two himself.
The Quakes have one win in five but remain just a point out of the Western playoffs. Everybody gets beat in Toronto. Now, after three straight on the road, San Jose returns to Avaya Stadium—where it’s on a six-game unbeaten run—to play Houston.
Getting a point in Seattle (and it could’ve been three), which followed their first win under Sigi Schmid, should give LA a bit of confidence heading into the stretch run. Romain Alessandrini (one goal, two assists) and Gyasi Zardes (two and one) have sparked LA’s mini renaissance.
They're not that bad on paper, but these are power rankings, and at the moment FCD is powerless. Getting torn apart by an expansion team on national TV was a new low.
At least Philly’s been tougher to beat. The Union have lost just one of their past four and only twice since the end of July. CJ Sapong snapped scored his first goal since August 5 in Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Minnesota.
Make that three straight defeats for Montreal, whose stretch-run schedule features two games against TFC as well as trips to Atlanta and Colorado. The Impact need three points Saturday against Minnesota.
Saturday’s win at RFK snapped an eight-game winless run but still, there are so many issues with this team. Two red cards, the arrest of midfielder Will Johnson, questions over Kaká’s impact and future—times are tough in Orlando.
Its three-game win streak ended against Orlando, but DCU dominated for significant stretches—taking 18 shots and drawing two red cards—and just didn’t get the bounces. This remains a very different team following its summer spending spree.
Saturday’s stunning 1-0 win in Houston broke a nine-game winless streak. “I think at this point we are just playing for pride,” stoppage-time goal scorer Dominique Badji said. “At this point, everyone is fighting for something bigger other than just the win.” At least they’re fighting.