It's MLS First Kick in Frisco this evening as FC Dallas opens the season at home against Western Conference rival Colorado Rapids. Last season, FC Dallas went 2-1-0 against the Rapids, losing their first game against Oscar Pareja's side in a game marred by two first-half red cards to FC Dallas. FCD took the return match in Colorado 2-1 before winning the rubber match 3-2 in Frisco. Our matchday threads have a combination of notes, keys to the game, referee and prediction...let's do this.
The forward situation It should be Kenny Cooper and Fabian Castillo up top tonight(I wrote about it for MLSsoccer.com yesterday) in a pair that gave San Jose tons of fits last Saturday. Eric Hassli should be ready for about 15-20 minutes of action while Blas Perez is suspended. Could we see Bradlee Baladez make the bench tonight?
Castillo love Colorado Fabian Castillo has absolutely torched Oscar Pareja and Colorado the last two times he's played them, scoring a goal and an assist in each match. The Colombian should be in for another big game tonight as he looks to have a breakout 2013 campaign.
Colorado on the road Simply put, the Rapids were awful on the road last year going 3-13-1 averaging less than a goal per game. Historically, Colorado has really struggled at Dallas in the regular season going 6-19-4 all-time.
Who starts in goal? Schellas Hyndman's biggest decision of the evening is who to start in goal...It's looking like the odds on favorite is Raul Fernandez with the Peruvian likely given the first two games and Chris Seitz given the next two while Fernandez is on international duty
Midfield pairing It looks like Andrew Jacobson will be paired with either Je-Vaughn Watson or Bobby Warshaw in central midfield tonight with Warshaw a more defensive pairing while Watson can provide some in the attack. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens with that tonight.
Keys to the Match
An Active Castillo Fabian Castillo's role as a forward in the 4-4-2 is to just pretty much run all over the field, hassling defenders, winning the ball and opening space for Kenny Cooper. If Castillo can be as active as he was against San Jose last weekend, Colorado's going to have a ton of problems keeping up.
Midfield Cohesion One of the great necessities of moving Ferreira out to the left in the 4-4-2 formation is having a central midfield pairing that knows exactly when they need to cover the space left when Ferreira moves centrally. I do have a worry that a midfield of Jacobson and Watson could be a bit of a rough go.
Keep the ball outside If I understand it correctly, the Rapids play a 4-3-3 that can transition pretty easily into a 4-5-1 that would have the FCD midfield outnumbered. If Dallas can attack down the wings like they love to do, that will be neutralized and FCD should find plenty of success.
REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): Peter Manikowski; JAR (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Ismail Elfath
MLS Career: 11 games; FC/gm: 21.1; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 1; pens: 2
I think that Colorado is actually going to be a pretty good team this year once all their pieces are settled in, but with Edson Buddle out and Matt Pickens a big injury question mark, it's tough for me to look past Dallas in this game.
3-1 FC Dallas