Over the past year-plus, FC Dallas has become known for its flashy offense. Between Mauro Diaz, Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Tesho Akindele, the Hoops certainly have no shortage of highlight-real playmakers.
But there’s also the saying that goes, “defense wins championships” which is true for all sports. Scoring points/goals/runs is nice and all, but it means nothing if you can’t stop the other team from scoring. Case in point is the New England Patriots, who won the Super Bowl on a defensive stand at the goal line.
The same will have to be true for FC Dallas this season if they want to legitimately contend for the MLS Cup.
Of course, it’s not like the Hoops is hurting, in the non-literal sense, at the moment on defense. The squad has already tallied four clean sheets in the first 11 matches of this season and has a plus-four goal differential. And last year they allowed only 45 goals all season, second-fewest in a highly competitive Western Conference.
At the center of it all is the captain himself, Matt Hedges. Hedges has made a name for himself with his defensive prowess in the center of the backline for FC Dallas. He’s been solid as a rock in the back for the Hoops, earning every bit of the captain’s armband and even getting a call up to the U.S. Men’s national team (maybe we see him in Russia in three summers?). Of course another way to measure his success is the drop off the team sometimes has when he’s out. Against Colorado back in April, FC Dallas gave up four goals to a Rapids team that had yet to find the back of the net.
Of course, he doesn’t do it alone. Zach Lloyd, though considered by some to be undersized, has been a great center back partner with Hedges. The two have a great chemistry which is needed to play that position and Lloyd plays a whole lot bigger than his five-foot-nine frame shows.
Behind them is now Dan Kennedy between the posts. Despite having a solid keeper in Chris Seitz, FC Dallas picked up Kennedy from Chivas USA in the dispersal draft to further sure up the position. Some might see it as a goalkeeping “controversy,” but it really puts the Hoops in a great position in case someone goes down.
Speaking of injuries, that could be the one down fall for the Hoops’ defense this year. We’ve already seen how bad things can go when key players on the back line go down and how uncomfortable it is with inexperienced guys are playing those positions. And if Lloyd or Hedges go out for an extended period of time with an injury, things could unravel in a hurry.
But with both of them healthy and good play on the wings from Je’Vaughn Watson and Moises Hernandez, the FC Dallas defense looks like its in a good position. Which is good because they’re going to have to stand tall to get this team to the top of the MLS world.