CONCACAF Group Stage Matchday 1: FC Dallas at UNAM Pumas

The group stage kicks off tonight in daunting fashion as Dallas heads to Mexico City to face Mexican Champions UNAM Pumas. However, names like Dario Veron and Paco Palencia will not be seen tonight as Pumas sends out U-20 stars like Carlos Campos and Erick Vera. It's a strategy that could work or backfire for Pumas who did the same thing in the 2008-2009 edition and went 3-0-3 in the group stage. 

For FC Dallas, we're likely to see as close to a first team as possible with Andrew Jacobson hopefully returning in the midfield for the suspended Bruno Guarda. At forward we could see either Marvin Chavez, Fabian Castillo or Ruben Luna while it will be interesting to see if Daniel Cruz perhaps makes his first start. 

Game notes

Juan Carlos Cacho Questionmark The biggest name that Pumas does include in their CCL roster is Mexican international striker Juan Carlos Cacho. It is still a question mark on whether he will start or not given that he sustained an injury in week 1 of the Mexican season, but some tweets I've seen suggest he could feature tonight for Pumas. 

Dallas lineup changes As we've mentioned, no Bruno or Maicon tonight. You'd also have to wonder if Schellas will keep the same back 4 from Saturday or possibly insert Bobby Warshaw. 

No live broadcast The game will not be legally broadcast live anywhere on TV or the internet in the United States. Your options are 10PM Central time broadcast on Galavision(depending on if the U20 World Cup game between Brazil and MExico goes to extra time) or 1130 on FSC. The game is being broadcast live on ESPN in Mexico and perhaps you could find an illegal stream. Personally, I'm just going off the grid until the game is on Galavision. 

Keys to the game, referee and prediction after the jump

Keys to the game

Protect the ball The best way for Dallas to beat these kids tonight is not give them chances on the counter attack. I highly doubt Pumas is going to be able to break down the bigger Dallas team through buildup of play, but their quickness and offensive skill will show on lightning-quick counters. Long stretches of possession isn't really Dallas game, but something they generally don't do is turn the ball over in dangerous areas. 

Be patient It's a 90 minute game whether you play it in Dallas or Mexico City. How many times have we seen Mexican teams beat MLS teams who get skiddish in the 80th minute? For Dallas, I'd take the exact same approach as they seemed to do in Alianza. Stay compact in the first 45 minutes, unleash the beast in the second half. 

Referee 

It's a Honduran crew tonight. I don't expect much. 

The international referees from Honduars are Gaspar Molina, Oscar Velasquez, John Rhodes and Hector Gutierrez.

 

Prediction

This is pretty much a total question mark to me. I have no doubt the Pumas first team would probably wipe the floor with Dallas in Mexico City, but who knows what the kids of Pumas will bring tonight. I'll say Dallas gets a draw in this one, though a first win for MLS in Mexico would be remarkable and is certainly within reach. 

1-1 draw

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