FC Dallas remains at home this weekend as they host Western Conference rivals Vancouver Whitecaps in a pivotal clash of two clubs that are desperate for three points.
Vancouver has been struggling lately, with only one win in their last seven league matches.
FC Dallas Notes:
23 lineups in 26 matches. Schellas Hyndman has had to use 23 different lineups this season with a 24th expected tomorrow night. The last time Hyndman didn't have to roll out a new lineup was back in April, which oddly enough came in the last two meetings against Vancouver.
Peter Luccin's speedy recovery. Back in February, newly signed defensive midfielder Peter Luccin suffered a season-ending ACL injury. But Luccin has worked hard during the season and has got himself back in to shape for the final eight games of the season. He played earlier this week in the Reserve League game against New York and even scored a goal.
September 7. This is the first time in since the inaugural season that FC Dallas has a match on September 7th. Lets all hope that the result is better than the last time the club played on this date (it was a 2-0 loss to New England).
Martin Rennie's team has been on a gradual dip over the last couple months, but not nearly as big of a dip as FC Dallas went through this summer. The Whitecaps, like FC Dallas, currently sit firmly out of the playoff picture with just two months left to go in the regular season.
Rennie's team has been leaning heavily on forward Camilo this season to get their offense going. The Brazilian has 14 goals on the season but just one in his last six games. Outside of Camilo scoring, there is Designated Player Kenny Miller that could also lead the charge up front. Miller has been dealing with various injuries this season and hasn't consistently got going though he does have seven goals on the year.
Defensively, Rennie has leaned on veterans in the back and Nigel Reo-Coker in the midfield. Reo-Coker has been their leader on the field this season and when he is on his game, the Whitecaps are a better side because of it.
The last few games have been rough on the Whitecaps, as they've lost some shape in their midfield. Rennie's team has two goals from their midfield group, which is the worst in MLS.
Last week against Chivas USA, the Whitecaps went down early 2-0 before storming back late. This group has shown a couple times this season that they are truly never out of any game as they've scored 19 of their 38 goals after the 60th minute.
Rennie has been mostly using a 4-3-3 formation this season, though last week he did swap it out for a 4-4-2 with Reo-Coker suspended.
Goalkeeper: David Ousted; RB: Young-Pyo Lee; CB: Andy O'Brien, Johnny Leveron; LB: Jordan Harvey; DM: Nigel Reo-Coker; CM: Gershon Koffie, Matt Watson; RW: Camilo; LW: Erik Hurtado; FW: Kenny Miller
Keys To Three Points:
Set pieces. In the two previous games, Dallas scored all of the four goals against Vancouver off set pieces. With the likes of Kenny Cooper and Blas Perez out for this one, taking advantage of those set piece changes will be even more vital for Dallas' success in this game.
Limit Camilo's touches. Even though the Brazilian has been a bit cold lately, it doesn't take much for him to light up the scoreboard. Dallas will need to keep a watchful eye anytime he gets the ball and find ways to limit what he is able to do in the open space. Camilo is a crafty player on the ball, so limiting his touches will be a big way in keeping Vancouver off the scoreboard.
Play smart. Vancouver is a crafty team that doesn't foul a ton and doesn't suffer a ton of fouls either. But they're smart in how they bait teams to foul them thanks to their veteran players. Dallas will need to play smart off the ball and not allow Vancouver to dictate the possession game in this one. That point mostly goes for Jackson, who is returning from suspension himself. As unfortunate as it sounds, one more yellow card for Jackson and he'll be suspended again.
Big game out of the midfield. With Cooper and Perez gone, this game will rest firmly on the Dallas midfield. David Ferreira, Jackson, Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, Ramon Nunez, and Je-Vaughn Watson all need to have big game. Eric Hassli is expected to possibly start in this one, which means someone will have to step up to assist him and not put as much pressure on him in the attack.
This one is going to be physical, tough and possibly frustrating at times to watch. But hey, that is the stretch run of the season for you when your team has been struggling for the last couple of months. I think the rest certainly helps Dallas out in this one and the home field advantage will play a factor (Vancouver isn't use to this heat). I think though that the losses up top hurt Dallas more though as we don't know what to expect out of Hassli or if Hyndman would even consider going with a Diaz-Castillo combo up top or even just let Diaz or Jackson go at it alone up front.
Still, saying that, I think the fighting spirit that this team has shown lately will come through and get a result. Its win or bust at this point.
FCD 2, Vancouver 1
What do you think the score will be? Let's hear it.