FRISCO, Texas – Loons coach Adrian Heath spent about 2 hours, 42 minutes more time in Toyota Stadium than he had planned Saturday.
In that time he learned something:
“We’re not where we need to be or where we want to be at this moment,” he said. “Are we a little bit better, maybe? I think we are. But the gap is still too big.”
The gap was made obvious Saturday, when, after weather delayed the start by 2:42, FC Dallas controlled the game and handed the Loons a 2-0 loss.
Dallas, the Western Conference leader at 13-5-6, held possession 59 percent of the time and outshot the Loons 16-7, including 8-1 in shots on goal.
The Loons (9-14-2) played without their leader in goals, assists and shots, midfielder Darwin Quintero, who was sidelined by a strained calf. Starters Collen Warner and Francisco Calvo missed the game because of suspensions.
“We aren’t strong enough and deep enough to cope with so many of our best players not being on the field,” Heath said. “It’s another reminder how far we have to go.”
The Loons were set back by a disputed goal in the 44th minute, when referee Ismail Elfath went to a video review and changed an offsides call, but Loons defender Michael Boxall was more troubled by Dallas’ next goal, in the 57th minute, when Michael Barrios was given acres of space by United’s dragging defense.
Boxall said the play illustrated the Loons’ second-half defensive issues — and it was all about their mind-set, not Dallas’ speed.
“The way we defended and had our shape and discipline in the first half was the way we were going to approach the game,” he said. “Then in the second half we had a few people reading off of different scripts.
“I don’t think their pace really hurt us tonight. It doesn’t matter how quick you are if you don’t close them down in the final third. No offense,” he said, turning to a reporter, “but I think you probably could have dribbled into that space and got something to go in. … At least you’d get a shot off.”
The loss dropped ninth-place Minnesota to 1-10-1 away from home, the worst road record in MLS.
What do the Loons need to change that?
“The discipline to stick with the game plan,” Boxall said. “We’re more than capable of scoring goals with the quality we have. It just doesn’t happen on the road, so we’ve got to adopt a different way.
“We need full buy-in from every single player for 90 minutes. For the first 40 or so tonight, it was good. Once people started straying from that in the second half, it was rough.”