Yesterday FC Dallas held their annual friendly with members of the media. Someone—I won’t say who—sent me the below video of our own Zac Crain’s performance at left back. This play is amazing. Let’s break it down.
Crain is clearly out of position as the opposing team’s striker heads for goal. To his credit, though, Crain is not satisfied to simply stare at the bottom of the White striker’s boots. He hustles to recover. Should he have tackled the man with a fully committed slide? Perhaps. Instead, Crain opts to make a stab at the ball with his left foot. It is at this point that the striker gives Crain the contact that sends him to ground. Should the ball have been given to Red for a free kick? VAR shows that’s not the case. In fact, an argument can be made that the referee should have shown Crain a yellow for diving. It was as if the White player was gently stroking Crain’s arm to console him after he’d received news that his cat had died. And yet Crain rolls on the pitch, thrusting his legs in the air as if Jamie Benn had just tried to crush his larynx with his stick. That’s a hockey reference.
One more observation before we roll the video. Notice Crain’s fellow Red defender, the sizable man with calves like those of Jack Grealish. Just as Crain throws himself to the pitch, Mr. Calves, rather than challenge the White striker, leaps over the ball to give his opponent a clear look at goal. What the actual hell?
I lied. This is actually the last observation: at the end of the play, Crain gets to his feet and walks away from the goal with a slump-shouldered hangdog look that almost—almost—makes me feel sorry for him.
Now let’s go to the tape: