Time to move into a new month of play. FC Dallas hits the road for the second straight weekend, first time to Canada on the new season, to face Toronto FC. Dallas enters the game with a three game winning streak, including two straight shutouts.
FC Dallas Notes:
Record against TFC. One interesting aspect of the series between Dallas and Toronto is how well Dallas has done against TFC since their initial visit to BMO Field back in 2007. Dallas is 6-1-4 all-time during the regular season against Toronto, including a four game unbeaten run at BMO Field. The last loss was the first one back in 2007. Now, yes, there was that CCL game a couple years ago at home against Toronto that still stings a bit but overall, the record has been quite good against the Reds.
Two up front or not? I would imagine we'll see more of the same in terms of formation this weekend out of Schellas Hyndman. He told reporters on Thursday that he expects Blas Perez to be a starter again saying that he does not expect the tall striker to come off the bench this weekend. So that should mean that Kenny Cooper could get moved to the wing yet again like we saw against the Houston Dynamo. It worked in Week 3, so why not in Week 6?
Castillo. That means Fabian Castillo is the wild card for Dallas in this game. I love that. I love the idea of him coming into this game from the bench. He has the pace and skill to do the super-sub role better than anyone else.
Reds defense. Toronto is much improved in the back this year with Danny Califf starting in the middle with Darren O'Dea. Those two have formed a nice partnership so far. Those two in the middle meant Richard Eckersley got bumped to the left full back spot. The midfield defensive pair will be Terry Dunfield and Jeremy Hall. Dallas fans know Hall too well for his play on the flank but so far he's been decent enough in the middle of the park for Toronto.
Reds attack. Still no Danny Koevermans for Toronto. The DP striker is still out. But Robert Earnshaw has stepped in nicely for him so far this season. Four goals to start the season, some off PKs, others thanks to defensive blunders. I'll say this about Earnshaw, he has a nose for goal and will cause a headache or two out there if Dallas isn't careful in the back.
Key player. Luis Silva - I've been interested in Silva since the day he was drafted. He is a quality young player and now that he is healthy, this could be a game that he starts. He is dangerous on and off the ball and loves to slip in behind the defense when he finds himself in open space.
Depth. Still a work in progress if you ask Toronto fans. They got younger in the offseason and given their 1-2-1 record, it is better than say where they were in 2012 at this time.
Keys to the game
Control the tempo. Toronto will want to dictate the pace of the game, being that it is at home. Last week against LA they had a few good chances early on and were able to test a quality back line that LA has and were nearly rewarded with three points. This is no push-over Toronto squad either. They have a new mentality under Ryan Nelsen. They work hard for every ball and will be constantly pressure the ball when they do not have it.
Allot Ferreira to be himself. This will be a game that David Ferreira will be called to do some extra work on and off the ball. Toronto will likely key in on him every chance they get in the midfield if they go with two defensive-type midfielders in Dunfield and Hall. Should they go away from that kind of lineup, it could open some doors for DF to do his work and set up the attack. That is what Dallas needs and wants to do in this game.
Smart defensively. Again, Earnshaw is an opportunistic type of striker. He pounces on mistakes and scores goals. Dallas has gotten better in the last couple of weeks with their communication in the back but George John, Matt Hedges, Raul Fernandez, Michel and Andrew Jacobson will all need to be on the same page in this one from the opening whistle.
Last week's win was a nice surprise to me. I called it a draw with a Jackson goal. While that didn't come true, I believe I will take it. As far as this week goes, as long as Dallas doesn't lose the game for stretches and controls the possession and chances like they have in recent weeks, they should come back to Dallas with points. I'm going conservative and saying it will be another draw though. Toronto does concern me in certain areas and they are just a team you can't take for granted these days.