The 2012 season hits the halfway point tonight as FCD begins a crucial three-game homestand against Western Conference foes Chivas USA. FC Dallas comes into the match carrying a franchise record-tying 10 game winless streak that stretches back to April 14 while Chivas USA comes into this match on the heels of a morale-boosting victory over Montreal Impact on Wednesday night.
Shea returns Brek is back tonight for FCD and could very well step into a starting spot. The bigger question becomes how does the lineup change if Brek does start. Two options are dropping Fabian Castillo to the bench or moving to a 4-4-2 with Castillo and Sealy up top. Either way, it will be very interesting to see if Shea starts and if so how rusty does he look after a month off.
Winless vs West FCD has a dismal 0-4-3 record against Western Conference opponents this season, though this is the first time Dallas will face Chivas USA. FCD was 2-0 vs Chivas USA last season and is 5-2-3 in Frisco vs the goats.
Missing FCD will be without Jair Benitez, Blas Perez, David Ferreira, Ricardo Villar, Bobby Warshaw, Ugo Ihemelu, George John and Alex Lee for this one. The upside is at least three of those guys should return for July 4th in Benitez, Perez, Ferreira and Villar.
Hot Hot Hot Today should be the first game this season where the heat is an issue. Temperatures are expected to reach near 100 today, though the 8PM start time for the summer does help the game to start with shadows over all the field.
Road Warriors Chivas USA have been fantastic on the road this season with a 3-1-2 record with their road wins coming at RSL, Portland and Toronto. They've also taken an impressive point from games at San Jose and New York.
Keys to the game
Repeat of Saturday If Dallas gets the same performance tonight that they had in Houston last Saturday, they'll win their first game in over two months. The combination of Shea and a focused Jackson on the wings will likely be too much for a Chivas team playing their third game this week, but the big question will be if they can replicate that performance.
Late goals FCD may have given up 21 second half goals this season, but Chivas USA isn't much better with 13 second half goals including 7(!) in the last 15 minutes of games this season. With the toll that heat takes in Frisco, if this one is close late, look for a substitute like Bryan Leyva or Jon Top to potentially come in and turn the game around.
FC Dallas - L T L L L
Chivas USA - W T T L W
REFEREE: Fotis Bazakos. SAR (bench): George Gansner; JAR (opposite): Bill Dittmar; 4th: Mark Declouet
MLS Career: 2 games; FC/gm: 25.0; Y/gm: 6.0; R: 0; pens: 0
Prediction 8-8 on the season
It has to end tonight. There's really no other choice. If FCD doesn't get at least 7 points from this homestand, I think the playoffs become almost unattainable. I think Dallas is a very confident bunch heading into this one and the win comes tonight as Jackson takes over again.
2-0 FC Dallas