It will have been 17 days since their last MLS match, but FC Dallas look to build off of two positive showings against Colorado and Portland and carry the momentum into this match against the Columbus Crew. FC Dallas have also notched two wins in the USOC, meaning we are undefeated in our last 4 matches in all competitions and look to extend this streak after such a long winless run. That being said, it won't be easy with some key players missing.
What we know:
• Federico Higuaín is problematic
Whether it is his ability to chip keepers from virtually anywhere in the attacking half, or his creative passing in tight pockets, Federico is someone to keep an eye on every second of the match. He currently leads Columbus with 6 goals scored thus far this season, while also leading the team in assists with 5. This puts him with either a goal or an assist every 102 minutes he is on the field. Our defenders better be on guard to stop him before he creates any havoc.
• We will be hurting for players
With Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez and Moises Hernandez all out due to suspension, along with the long list of injuries, we will be hurting to put a strong lineup together. We will likely be forced to throw Michel and Matt Hedges straight into the lineup and hope they don't show any rust. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jair Benitez get the nod at Left Mid while Escobar slides into the #10 role with Tesho Akindele alone up top.
• The Crew will play their game
Columbus brought in a new coach this year in Gregg Berhalter and one thing he has done, if nothing else, has brought an identity to the club, or a style if you will. The Crew will look to stamp their authority on the match early on with their possession based game and slowly break down the FC Dallas defense. It may not be flashy and they may not score a ton of goals, but it has gotten them results and they will be pushing for a playoff spot all season. For an FC Dallas team that is prone to mistakes in the back, this methodical attacking style could play to Columbus' strengths going into the match.
What we don't know
• Who will really play?
Federico Higuaín was just taken off the injury list, so it is possible he will play in this match in some form or fashion, but to what extent is only a guess. Will Matt Hedges and Michel actually be ready to play roles in this match, or is it just a mind game by Oscar Pareja? In what role will we see Jair Benitez play, as well as Escobar and Watson? There are just too many ifs and buts in the lineups in the leadup to this match and we won't really know until 45 minutes before kickoff when lineups are released.
• Which team will show up?
This goes for both teams. Columbus and Dallas both started the year strong and have suffered since, but have shown signs of brilliance along the way. If one team comes out firing on all cylinders, then the other could be in store for a long day. On the other hand, if they both come out pumped and ready to go, we could be in for one of the best matches in MLS this season.