How many of you realized there was a game on Wednesday at the start of this week? Honestly now...
Anyways, the Revs come to Frisco tonight for the precious game in hand that Dallas has on the rest of their competitors. It's a game that will probably be played in front of a crowd in the low thousands, but a massive game for Dallas where anything but three points is really a disaster and would end any Supporter's Shield hopes.
New England Revolution
I'll admit, apart from their Superliga Final and the FC Dallas away game there, I've watched maybe an hour of Revolution soccer this season. They just kind of seem like the team MLS forgot this year. Can you name a player on the Revs other than Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis? After a 4 game unbeaten run that saw the Revs get a sliver of hope in the playoff race, they've completely collapsed losing five of their last six games while allowing multiple goals in all of those losses(Something Dallas has done once since April).
For one reason or another, it just seems like New England has been behind the 8 ball all season with key injuries and players who just haven't hit form as in the past like Kevin Alston. The one danger for New England are their forwards. Marko Perovic is a player who has completely flown under the radar this year, but the Serbian signed from FC Basel in the offseason has quietly had a great season. A player who seems to only score great goals, Perovic has six on the season and is someone the FC Dallas defense has to account for. His forward partner, Ilija Stolica, is another player that could give FCD trouble as Zach Loyd seems to struggle with big, strong forwards like Stolica. Make no mistake though, this is an awful team that has the worst defense in the league and the second worst offense in the league.
A look at FC Dallas, keys to the game and links after the jump
The biggest foe facing FC Dallas tonight will be injuries and suspension. Without five of their regular starters in Hartman, John(who could feature on the bench), Hernandez, Ihemelu and Shea, FC Dallas will be relying on big performances from players like Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander and David Ferreira to create scoring chances. As long as the back four remains focused, it shouldn't be too difficult to hold quiet a New England attack that's been shutout 11 times in league play.
Keys to the Game
-Schellas Hyndman must have his troops fired up and ready to play. Complacency is the biggest fear the coach will have going into this one and it's up to him to make sure the team treats New England with the same respect they gave to New York. There's not likely to be a huge crowd to motivate the players.
-Deny service to the New England forwards Stolica and Perovic. These two have combined well since Stolica arrived and they're the biggest threats to Dallas. New England is not a team with much of an attacking midfield so keeping the ball off the feet and head of the forwards will most likely result in a shutout for Dallas.
-Pounce on New England early. The Revs don't have a whole lot to play for and they're coming to Frisco demoralized from a 3-0 shellacking in Denver. An early goal will most likely end this game before halftime.
-Make Cory Gibbs suffer. Okay maybe this one is a little selfish, but those of us who have been around for awhile still haven't forgotten about him abandoning the team after 2004.
Shameless plug: I wrote a piece for NE Soccer Today about the game that you can read here.
Daniel: It’s tough to find a lot of weaknesses in a team that hasn’t lost in 15 games and allows well under a goal a game. Atiba Harris has probably been the weak link for Dallas this year on the right as he offers almost nothing offensively these days but he does a good job of defending. The central defense is without both starters, though Jackson and Loyd have filled in admirably. Dallas’ attack has been fairly anemic lately as teams have figured out that you can just foul David Ferreira out of the game, as referees are not giving him any protection.
My all-time favorite Dallas player, Dario Sala, is relishing another chance between the pipes this season, writes Andy Friedlander for the DMN.
What Sala has been doing is serving as Hartman's best friend and support system. The team's oldest players – Hartman is 36 – have known each other for years, and when FC Dallas acquired Hartman in March, they became road roommates and began hanging out together.
"Sometimes I don't like goalies rooming together because it's so competitive," coach Schellas Hyndman said. "But when I tried to pull them apart, they said, 'No, don't do that. We enjoy it.' "
That's one reason Sala said serving as Hartman's backup has not been difficult at all. Another is his loyalty to FCD, his club since 2005.
"For the last two years, we didn't get into the playoffs, and we didn't have a good locker room environment like we have now," he said. "So this has been an enjoyable year."
Schellas is giving away nothing about what his lineup will be tonight, writes Steve Hunt in an article with lots of great quotes.
"We’re definitely going to put someone [on the left flank]," Hyndman said on Friday. "I think [Marvin] Chávez is a good choice, or it could be [Eric Avila]. We’ve run out of a lot of choices for that position. We could move Dax [McCarty] on the right side and put Atiba [Harris] on the left side. There’s a lot of different things that I think are very similar.
"But we’ve got to find a defending midfielder," he said. "That, to me, is the key."
Steve also writes that Jackson and Loyd are ready for another game together.
"It’s a great experience, starting the position with Zach," Jackson said through an interpreter. "Hopefully it’s going to keep getting better and better."
Loyd agrees, but admits the language barrier between him and his Brazilian teammate has required them to make some adjustments.
"It’s fairly new but every training session, we have someone helping us communicate because we don’t both speak the same language," the rookie defender said. "Bruno [Guarda] has been doing a really good job helping us, and also coach Schellas. We do a lot of hand signals to keep us on the same page. So far, it’s been working out really well."
The Official MLSSoccer.com game preview
Darío Sala vs. New England's forwards: The last time these teams met, it was a gaffe by Sala that led to the Revs’ only goal and caused FCD to leave town with a single point instead of the full three. In his side’s next game, Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman went with Hartman, who has started every game since.
With Hartman now on the shelf with an MCL injury, Sala wants to make the most of his second shot at New England, so expect him to be at the top of his game come Wednesday night.
Buzz at 3rddegree gives his take on what the lineup should look like tonight
In midfield the changes actually make for a formation tweak, as you'll see Eric Alexander and Dax McCarty both playing behind David Ferreira. Depending on which day, who you ask, and even which part of training you watch, it's either McCarty as holding mid with Alexander linking, or the other way around. Suffice to say both will get forward. If you were to ask me, I would say Alexander will be more of the holding mid.
The Goal.com Game preview
Dallas: FC Dallas are playing very well despite key injuries. Even when they aren't at full strength, the Hoops find ways to get the results they want. Dallas should take this one comfortably, 2-0.
No matter who is missing, the bottom line is this is a game that FC Dallas should win. If they come out of the locker room without any complacence and give a professional effort, it should be a comfortable win.
3-0 FC Dallas