It took 14 months and almost a season and a half of soccer but David Ferreira, the FC Dallas playmaker and former MLS Most Valuable Player, is finally back on the field.
The Colombian playmaker stepped onto the field in the 57th minute of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw, his first appearance since April 2011, and immediately began to develop a slow trickle of half chances for the home team. (If that sounds like meager praise, a “slow trickle of half chances” does represent forward progress at this point; Dallas has two goals in its last three home games, including contests against lower-tier Charlotte and two of the worst sides in MLS, Chivas USA and Toronto FC.)
Speaking of “immediately,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman immediately began a public lobby for better protection. Asked how Ferreira reacted to fouls from Toronto players, Hyndman said, “He was pissed!”
A tackle from behind last year in Vancouver broke Ferreira’s ankle; Hyndman said he hopes referees will help protect his club’s creator against the next potentially devastating defensive lunge.
Whether Ferreira can help dislodge the troubled team from a very bad place remains in question; FC Dallas is a mess right now, looking every bit like an injury-battered side that hasn’t won a game since April while looking absolutely nothing like the smooth-passing side Hyndman had built.
The spine of the team is in tatters. Rookie center back Matt Hedges loses his positioning too often. Hernan Purtuz looks like a quality center back, but one who needs a guiding voice alongside to keep from being stretched out of position.
Daniel Hernandez can’t be effective as a distributor because center backs and fellow midfielders can’t get him the ball. And Hernandez, 35, is increasingly stretched in his defensive duties.
James Marcelin is a stop-gap defensive midfield presence but a poor fit for the passing and possession game Dallas covets.
How troubled is Dallas’ passing and possession at the moment? Starting central midfielders Hernandez and Marcelin combined to complete 35 passes; TFC’s Torsten Frings connected on 40 by himself.
Even if the Red Stripes could find better channels into Ferreira – they were hard to pinpoint Wednesday, although Frings’ steely, attentive tracking had a lot to say about that – it won’t matter without a better striker around to sniff out the end of any opportunities, precious few as they are right now.
Brek Shea was OK as a lone striker Wednesday, but Dallas’ ongoing failure to secure a quality backup for (currently injured) scorer Blas Perez is absolutely crushing.