FC Dallas' 2012 Season is Almost as Depressing as Portland's

Sigh.

FC Dallas players walking out of the tunnel on Sunday beneath chants of "PT! FC!" will almost certainly find a bit of a spring in their steps.

After all, they just beat this team 5-0 two weeks ago and have a 12-5 advantage over the Portland Timbers since they joined the league in 2011.

Their star, Brek Shea, having been humbled (for the bazillionth time) and given some time to "clear his head," could well return to the lineup on a mission. New designated player Julian de Guzman, who has yet to make much of an impact for Dallas, could well start to be the leader they need in the center of the pitch. The return of David Ferreira also offers some promise.

Meanwhile George John, the promising CB who had missed seven matches due to concussion symptoms, could be ready to whip the back line into shape. And up-and-comers Jackson Gonçalves and Fabian Castillo are tearing things up.

And here they are, playing one of maybe three MLS teams in worse shape than they are. This should be a piece of cake.

At least, that's what I hope they're all going to be thinking.

I had to rewatch that dismal performance before writing this piece, and I won't pretend it was any easier to watch the second time around. It was as one-sided as a soccer match can be.

But it wasn't any particular display of quality from FC Dallas that won them the game -- this was far more a Timbers loss than a Dallas win. Portland's strategy appeared to be to try to beat the heat by crowding the center and pushing the ball out to the flanks -- and take their chances on crosses from the wings. The strategy in fact did little to conserve their energy, especially for those players on the back line.

In the end, the Timbers repeated every mistake they'd made all year, and indeed during its entire MLS history. Failing to close the space on the wings. Leaving acres of space just outside the penalty area.

FC Dallas did well to exploit Portland's more well known weaknesses and by the end had almost free rein to terrorize them all over the field.

But their state of mind as a group was the reason they won by so much. Having endured months of offensive impotence made worse by the injury to starting striker Blas Perez, Dallas were looking to break out of their funk in a big way. Which would explain why they kept trying to score even after having five goals on the board.

They returned to their more familiar losing form a week later, forcing LA Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders into just a single save. Whatever momentum gained from a 5-0 drubbing flew out the window.

Little hope remains among either club's fans that the playoffs are still a possibility. Whatever resurgence Dallas might muster with the return of injured players will almost certainly fall short.

At this point, with the dog days of the MLS schedule having just begun, both of these teams are playing for little more than pride. I have to think Portland would have more of that pride to gain with a win on Sunday.

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