FRISCO, TX - OCTOBER 15: Goal keeper Kevin Hartman #1 of the FC Dallas looks for a open teammate to kick the ball to during the second half of a soccer game against Vancouver FC at Pizza Hut Park on October 15, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won 2-0. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Generally there's one team you play 4 times a year and that's whoever you meet in a playoff series, but tomorrow night FC Dallas and Toronto FC will meet for the four and a half(th?) time since Mid-May. Amazingly, all three and a half games have ended 1-0, though the Toronto FC team that Dallas will face tomorrow night in the CCL group decider is much different than the team in May. Let's look at the previous games between FCD and FCD this season.
May 11, 2011 FC Dallas 1 Toronto FC 0
The first matchup of the season came right in the middle of FCD's best run of the season, a 9 game stretch in which Dallas would go 6-0-3. This game against Toronto was actually one of Dallas' worst(relatively) performances in the middle of that stretch as Dallas won on a fairly dubious pk right before the end of the first half converted by Daniel Hernandez. As I recall Toronto never really threatened the Dallas goal in the match.
You really can't take a whole lot from this one, as just 4 starters from that game played in the last Champions League game at BMO Field against Dallas.
July 20, 2011 FC Dallas 1 Toronto FC 0
This game will always be remembered for the Brek Shea wonder strike. In the 48th minute, Shea received the ball at midfield, beat a couple of defenders and fired a laser off the post and in from 30 yards out to win the points for Dallas. FCD would again fail to impress in this match, riding their luck for much of the game while Kevin Hartman turned in another stellar performance to secure the points for Dallas.
August 25, 2011 FC Dallas 1 Toronto FC 0
This was a weird one as Dallas led Toronto 1-0 at halftime before the game was called off due to a thunderstorm over BMO Field. The game was replayed on Thursday morning with Jack Stewart, making his first start for FC Dallas due to a case of food allergy for Andrew Jacobson, scoring the decisive goal. To be fair, it's tough to take a whole lot from this match due to the bizarre circumstances around it. This one was just a gritty, hard-fought win for Dallas, something that seems to be a theme when the teams have met this year.
This one is probably going to be a nervy, nail-biting game. Dallas has not allowed a goal to Toronto in 3 1/2 games this season, but they've also never been more than a goal up on them. The difference in tonight's game is that TFC goes into this one knowing anything other than a win is curtains for them so there should be plenty of room for the Dallas counter-attack to exploit a poor Toronto back line.