The playoff push continues for another week as FC Dallas currently sits two points shy of the 5th and final playoff spot. This week they head to the Mile High City to face an old nemesis, the Colorado Rapids.
Dallas owns the edge in the season series right now with a win and a draw in the two previous matches this season. Dallas won the opener 1-0 on a Jackson goal and then got a draw back in June thanks to two goals from Blas Perez.
FC Dallas Notes:
Quick transition for Diaz. Mauro Diaz has made a name for himself already with FC Dallas, scoring two goals and adding in one assist since joining the club earlier this summer. In 226 minutes of action since signing back in July, Diaz is averaging .80 goals a game. Not a bad way to get use to a new city, team and league.
Fabian vs Colorado. Fabian Castillo has always done well against the Colorado Rapids, even more so since Oscar Pareja took over as manager last season. Last year he had two goals and two assists against the Rapids. Given how in his last four matches he has four assists, you can expect him to add to that tally this weekend.
Pareja's club has been doing very well as of late. In their last 11 matches, the Rapids have only lost once, a 2-1 defeat at Sporting KC two weeks ago. Pareja has his team dialed in as a group, mixing the young core that started out the season with the veteran group that returned from injuries very nicely.
Colorado gets goals from all over the place these days. Rookie Deshorn Brown leads the club with seven goals but more recently has come off the bench while Edson Buddle is started to catch fire. Throw in the fact that they have Designated Player Gabriel Torres up front, the weapons for Pareja are certainly there to do some damage.
Colorado has done well defensively this season as well. Young players like Chris Klute and Shane O'Neill have stepped up nicely alongside former FC Dallas defender Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne. Keeper Clint Irwin also has some recognition to be earned with the 10 shutouts that he has gotten this season.
Pareja typically uses a 4-3-3 formation that sits two holding midfielders in front of their defense with a line of attacking playmakers sitting behind a lone striker.
Goalkeeper: Clint Irwin; RB: Marvell Wynne; CB: Shane O'Neill, Drew Moor; LB: Chris Klute; CM: Dillon Powers, Hendry Thomas; RM: Atiba Harris, AM: Vicente Sanchez; LM: Martin Rivero; FW: Edson Buddle.
Keys to three points:
Protect the right side. I fully expect the Rapids to key in on Kellyn Acosta's side of the field, which makes sense given how they score a majority of their goals from the right side of the penalty box. Acosta will have to step up his game against a group of crafty veteran attackers, but he'll also need some assistance from his midfield to keep the pressure off of him.
Smart possession. Colorado does well at holding the ball when they need to. In other words, they have a purpose with their attack. Dallas will need to be smart in their possession, not giving up any silly or sloppy passes in the back (looking at you Michel) and in the midfield. Colorado has too much speed and skill up front that anything easily given to them in the Dallas defensive end will be converted into a goal scoring chance.
Play wide and with speed. One thing Dallas did well against the Rapids in the two previous meetings was playing the ball wide and with pace. Each time they got the ball wide, it immediately put pressure on the Rapids defense. Given the 4-3-3 formation, that is bound to happen as some space on the wings will be there for the taking.
Take chances. This will be one of those hard fought games in the end but Dallas has to make the most of each chance that they get in this one. On set pieces, they have to make the most of them with their height advantage but at the same time be mindful of the pace that the Rapids have on the counter attack. In the open play, Dallas needs to do more of what they did last week, just let it rip.
This is certainly going to be a challenge no matter how you spin it. Colorado is a good team that has proven over the course of the season that they are a contender to reach the playoffs this year. Dallas has to play a complete game tomorrow and work hard to not let anything silly in. I think Dallas is in a good enough position to at least come away with a point in this one as they've shown me a thing or two over the last few weeks that they still have what it takes to get the job done.
Dallas 1, Colorado 1
What is your prediction for Saturday's game? Think Dallas can pull away with the three points? Let's hear it in the comments below.