May 11, 2014, 1:51 AM EST
Major League Soccer’s officials are clear cracking down. Last season, red cards came once every 4.08 games. This year, that rate’s down to one every 3.10. Perhaps that figure will climb as the season progresses, but through 10 weeks, it’s meant a lack of 11-on-11 soccer.
Saturday night in Santa Clara gave us only 45 minutes of even strength play, those Cordell Cato’s goal in the 25th sent San Jose into halftime with a lead. But the Earthquakes were also down a man at that point after Shea Salinas saw red for a reckless challenge. In the second half, the shorthanded hosts got insurance from a David Texiera own goal, enough to overcome a Michel free kick and two close calls to give the Earthquakes a 2-1 win.
The victory gives Mark Watson’s side seven points in its last four games, turning what was once a dreary spring into something decent. With 10 points, the Earthquakes are now in sixth place, and while part of that is due to having three more games played than the seventh place Galaxy, it’s also three spots better than they were a short time ago.
Dallas, on the other hand, is trending in the other direction, though it’s four-game losing streak has gone from one extreme to the other on the red car spectrum.Two weeks ago in D.C., Dallas ended the night with nine men. Last week in Frisco, Tex., Dallas lost Je-Vaughn Watson after 10 minutes. Wednesday’s game in Seattle was played without any dismissals, while tonight’s match gave the Toros an advantage. Against Chivas USA next week, expect Dallas to finish the game playing against nine.
While that makes it difficult to figure out where Oscar Pareja’s team is in this (perhaps temporary) post-Mauro Diaz world, FCD still should have found a way to get something out of Santa Clara. Down one but up a man with 45 minutes left should give a team averaging just under two goals per game plenty of time to equalize, if not win. Unfortunately, without a creator to replace Diaz, Dallas was largely ineffective – unable to break through Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez.
It’s difficult to be too critical of Dallas given Diaz’s situation, but even if the Argentine playmaker comes back in six weeks, Oscar Pareja needs a better Plan B. Whether he gets injured again or just doesn’t come back as quickly as the most optimistic rumors hope, Dallas can’t continue as a team that can’t win 11-on-10 when he’s not on the field.
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