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CONCACAF Champions League Group Stage Matchday 6: FC Dallas vs Toronto FC

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Here we go, one of the defining games of 2011 tonight at a chilly Pizza Hut Park as FC Dallas faces Toronto FC in a winner take all Concacaf Champions League Group Stage finale. 

Game notes

Everything to play for Whoever wins this game tonight will advance to the knockout round of the CCL for the first time. Should the game end up in a draw, Dallas will advance provided Tauro FC doesn't win at Pumas. Should Dallas or Toronto win this game and Pumas fail to beat Tauro, the winning team from tonight will finish top of the group. Pumas and Tauro don't play until tomorrow night which seems horribly corrupt .

Missing Two Players There will be no Jair Benitez or Fabian Castillo tonight as both are serving suspensions due to red cards picked up at Tauro last time out. The loss of Castillo only hurts if Dallas needs a goal in the second half, as I wouldn't have anticipated him to start, but the likely insertion of Jeremy Hall into the starting XI is a slight down-grade form Benitez. Probably the biggest down-side of Hall in the lineup is the loss of the overlapping runs on the left side that open up Brek Shea.

Chilly, windy night Dallas is experiencing it's first cold snap of the fall and the winds are howling outside right now. This could be a huge advantage to whatever team is playing with the wind at their back in the second half, though the mid-50's temperatures should make for some great soccer. 

Oh and Dirk will be there

Keep reading for Keys, Referee and Prediction

Keys to the game

Smart Distribution From the Back Toronto is going to be forced to attack from the outset. They must win this game so there will be a lot of pressure on the Dallas back 4. They need very smart distribution to get the ball to the dangermen going forward in order to jump-start those devastating counterattacks that have become the FC Dallas trademark. 

Shea, Chavez and Jackson It seems as these three guys go, so goes FC Dallas. When they play well, FCD is pretty much impossible to beat. When they are drifting in and out of the game, Villar and Cruz become much more relied upon and they get exposed. Look for Jackson and Chavez to alternate between the right wing and forward positions throughout much of the night. 

Referee 

FC Dallas (USA) vs. Toronto FC (CAN), 8 p.m.
Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
Assistant 1: Marvin Torrentera (MEX)
Assistant 2: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
Fourth: Francisco Chacon (MEX)

Prediction

The makeup of tonight's game really plays into Dallas hands as they're a team that loves to jump on teams that overexpose themselves on offense. Toronto will be forced to attack tonight which should open up tons of space for Shea and Chavez to operate on the wings. If I'm TFC, I focus on defending for the first 45 minutes and try to go into halftime at 0-0 before unleashing the dogs in the second half. However, I think TFC comes out a bit over-exuberant and gets popped on the counterattack early. TFC gets it back to 1-1 in the second half but Dallas gets the winner from Brek Shea. 

2-1 FC Dallas