Just a few hours away from kickoff now in what is probably the biggest game at Pizza Hut Park since these two teams last met for a trip to the Western Conference Finals in late October. Tonight is another win or go home matchup with FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake facing off for a trip to the US Open Cup Semifinals. If Dallas wins tonight, they will either travel to Seattle or host Los Angeles depending on the result of that match tonight.
Hernandez, will he play or won't he? We talked about it earlier and the status of FC Dallas Captain Daniel Hernandez is very much up in the air. Dallas really needs their captain tonight considering that Andrew Jacobson is highly unlikely to play and Bobby Warshaw struggled against Salt Lake on Saturday.
RSL missing big names Alvaro Saborio and Nick Rimando were left back in Utah for different reasons. Saborio seems to be in the doghouse after storming off the field upon being subbed Saturday and leaving the stadium. Rimando apparently picked up a minor injury and was left home.
Borchers back Nat Borchers should return tonight for RSL after serving his one game red card suspension while it remains to be seen if he will partner with Jamison Olave.
RSL winless in Dallas It's very well documented that Salt Lake has never won at the Cotton Bowl or Pizza Hut Park and it's something that is in the head of Jason Kreis. He mentioned after the 0-0 draw in May how it was a monkey off his back to not lose in Frisco, but it will take much more than that effort to win tonight.
Keep reading for links, keys to the game and a prediction
Keys to the game
Get Jackson back on track Jackson and Chris Wingert went at it all evening on Saturday and it seemed to push the Brazilian off his game as he was more concerned with getting one over on Wingert than contributing to the cause. Jackson will have to show more emotional intelligence tonight and being at a normal altitude should help.
90+ minutes of focus As we saw a couple of weeks ago, there's something about the Open Cup that invites late goals. It nearly forced Dallas to play 30 extra minutes against Orlando and Dallas really doesn't need extra time tonight with all the games coming up.
Get loud This one is on the crowd tonight. It should be a decent crowd for Open Cup and it needs to be a rowdy crowd. If this one goes to extra time, the team will need all the encouragement they can get to fight through the temperatures.
Andy Friedlander writes for the Dallas Morning News that tonight is bigger than just another game.
Anytime you can compete for a championship, you should compete,” the coach said. “You can’t develop a culture of winning when you don’t give the players the tools to win. We know how fantastic it is to win and how negative it is when you don’t win.”
Robert Casner writes that tonight is about redemption for FC Dallas.
After a loss, as a player you want to get back on the field,” defender Zach Loyd told MLSsoccer.com. “Not only to prove yourself as an individual, but as a team we want to get back there and have a good result.”
Michael C. Lewis writes that key players were left home for RSL
Defender Tony Beltran would like to think that Real Salt Lake will enjoy a bit of an edge against FC Dallas in its quarterfinal game in the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night, after beating the Hoops at home last weekend. But teammate Andy Williams is not so sure.
"Never," he said. "Never down there."
Todd Date has a story up on ESPN Dallas about Andrew Wiedeman, a player we could see tonight.
He admits he never thought he’d be working as an outside back but as long as it gets him on the field, he’s completely OK with it.
“I had been just filling in,” Wiedeman said. “Because of our lack of depth back there, it was an opportunity to get on the field whether it was during practice or reserve games. So I just played back there. I didn’t necessarily think it was going to be a long-term thing but I was eager because it’s another position to play. I was working at it and it just kind of stuck.”
I don't see FC Dallas losing two games in a row and I think they use the heat to their advantage tonight in a classic game. We're knotted 1-1 at halftime before two second half goals put Dallas in a comfortable lead. RSL grabs one late to make things nervous but Dallas holds on.
3-2 FC Dallas