We've reached the fourth game of the season and tonight FC Dallas hosts Real Salt Lake looking to win their third straight home game and go to nine points on the young season. It's a bit of a trap game for Dallas after the emotional win over Houston last weekend and a two-game road trip on the horizon.
International Absences We talked about it earlier in the week and it remains the case that this game is going to be decimated by international absences. RSL is missing four key starters in Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Tony Beltran and Alvaro Saborio while FC Dallas will be missing starters Raul Fernandez and Blas Perez as well as Je-Vaughn Watson.
Seitz Starts The absence of Fernandez means that Chris Seitz will be getting his first start of the season tonight and as I wrote for FCDallas.com, he's going to have a lot on his mind.
RSL's Amazing Streak Real Salt Lake is an absolutely incredible 0-18-3 all-time in the state of Texas against FC Dallas and Houston. Jason Kreis' men are 0-8-2 all-time at FCD, though they have earned draws in their last two trips to Frisco.
Ferreira's Streak David Ferreira is one of two players in the league with a goal or an assist in each of the season's first three games(Sebastien Le Toux) and he could be back in the center of midfield tonight with Blas Perez missing and FCD possibly moving back to a 4-2-3-1
Keys to the Game
Late-game defending So far this season, the defending has been very good for FCD in the first hour of the game. They have yet to allow a first-half goal, but four of the five goals allowed have come in the last 15 minutes of matches. RSL has allowed only two goals in three games this year.
Feed Cooper Goals for strikers like Kenny Cooper come in bunches and I have a hunch that the big guy could be due for a breakout game tonight after opening his season account late last week. FCD should really try to feed Cooper in this game and get him into a nice groove heading into the road trip.
Don't underestimate Just because RSL is missing a bunch of players doesn't mean Dallas can afford to take them lightly. Josh Saunders won two MLS Cups in goal and Robbie Findley is a proven MLS scorer. That being said, if Dallas can jump on them early, things could get ugly.
REFEREE: Juan Guzman. SAR (bench): Ian Anderson; JAR (opposite): Matthew Nelson; 4th: Ted Unkel MLS Career: 22 games; FC/gm: 25.5; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 6; pens: 4
Prediction(1-2 on the year)
It wasn't the best week of training in the world for FCD with a depleted squad, but tonight's game is all about professionalism. On paper, Dallas should be able to handle this RSL team without their three best players. What I'm looking for tonight is a strong defensive performance from Dallas and continued success for Cooper.