FCD looked poised to push onwards after a MLS Cup appearance in 2010, but injuries and other sundry distractions have derailed those plans.The news surrounding David Ferreira's latest spell on the sidelines raises the type of overarching and unsettling questions FC Dallas probably doesn't want to face.
Ferreira's absence for the next six to eight weeks after foot surgery doesn't represent the end of FCD's quest for glory this season, but it does lend credence to the prospect that Schellas Hyndman's side may never quite reach the heights expected of it for one reason or another.
FCD's emergence as one of the top three or four sides in the league should have continued after its MLS Cup appearance in 2010. All of the pieces but one – the natural center forward to cap off a side already replete with reliable goalkeeping, resolute defending, tidy midfield play and wizardry from Ferreira in the attacking third – fit neatly into place. There were older players in the mix for sure, but the blend of ambition and youth ensured the right mixture for a sustained run near the pinnacle of the league.
For one reason or another, the circumstances continue to prevent FCD from meeting those goals.
It all, of course, starts with Ferreira's injury in Vancouver last April. Credit Hyndman and his charges for rising to meet that particular challenge with aplomb, but no MLS side can truly compensate for the absence of its best player for any extended stretch of time. The extreme demands placed upon the squad – emotional distractions created by a pair of tragedies and physical burdens shouldered during a rigorous second-half schedule – and the paucity of reliable center forward play ultimately sidetracked a campaign that promised so much at the outset.
Even in the wake of that painful denouement, FCD somehow managed to muddle through and patch up the holes during the winter. Blas Pérez arrived to finally fill the gaping vacancy up front and his presence has bolstered the side considerably. George John's return from a brief and uneventful loan spell at West Ham and Hernán Pertuz's arrival guaranteed defensive cover wouldn't pose a problem. On paper, FCD had nearly all of the components required – except for an additional option in central midfield and more depth on the wings – to infringe upon the territory ceded to Los Angeles, Real Salt Lake and Seattle.
Those suitable fixes reinforced the squad without solving the underlying, Whack-a-Mole-type problems that always seem to crop up. Fabián Castillo's recent knee injury exposed the lack of quality depth in the wide areas after the rather suspect decision to ship Marvin Chávez to San Jose during the close season. Ferreira returned during preseason only to pick up a knock, shuffle off to the sidelines once again and tempt observers to question whether he will ever reclaim his place at full strength. Daniel Hernandez still hasn't located his successor in central midfield. John's status remains up in the air with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, and his injection into the squad added further complications to a side that wasn't expecting his return. Shea hasn't produced his best form in months.
Every move Hyndman makes seems to take hold only for some other element to crack elsewhere. The changes aren't the problem, per se (the continue presence of Chávez, Eric Alexander, and Dax McCarty in the squad would certainly solve some of those midfield issues, though). At this point, the persistent inability to name the strongest side under the right conditions looms as the most difficult hurdle to overcome.
Fortunately for FCD, the window remains open to make that anticipated surge. Most of the parts are in place for a successful MLS side, but the gap between FCD and the upper crust of the league widens with each passing day. Closing the divide will require the one element that FCD has desperately missed over the past year and a half: a dose of good fortune to bring all of those promising components together at the right time.
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