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Matchday 18: FC Dallas vs Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS OH - AUGUST 28:  Eric Alexander #24 of FC Dallas is upended by Adam Moffat #22 of the Columbus Crew while battling for the ball on August 28 2010 at Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS OH - AUGUST 28: Eric Alexander #24 of FC Dallas is upended by Adam Moffat #22 of the Columbus Crew while battling for the ball on August 28 2010 at Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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It's July 4 weekend and that means one of the big crowds at Pizza Hut Park tonight. I don't think it will quite get to a sellout, but a bumper crowd of 15,000+ should be expected.

Public Service Announcement

Get there early tonight and join Bobby Rhine in the march to the match as it leaves from The Londoner at 7PM. You'll get a free American flag for going and every FCD fan should support Bobby. Then join me in the newly sponsored Budweiser Beer Garden. Remember, the game starts at 8.

Game News

Pioneer Cup This is the finale of the Pioneer Cup, you'll remember Columbus beat FCD 2-0 earlier this season in one of the worst performances of the season for Dallas. 

Climbing the table Right now, FCD sits with Seattle at 2nd place in MLS, four points behind Los Angeles but with those two teams playing on Monday this game presents a fantastic opportunity for Dallas to not only gain points but to pull within a point of tops in the league.

Crew Strong Lately Columbus is not a team to be taken lightly, especially lately. They just dropped four goals on Colorado in a 4-1 win on Sunday and they've lost just 1 of their last 6 games. Columbus has been very poor on the road, however, going 1-3-3 in 7 road games, with just 5 goals scored.

Keep reading for game keys, referee and prediction

Keys to the Game

First Goal 13-0-1....that's the combined record of these teams when they score the first goal. Whoever scores first in this game is going to be extremely favored to win. If there is a goal scored that is...

MENDOZAAAA The Peruvian striker has had a very interesting season. After getting booed off the field and gesturing to his own fans earlier in the year, Mendoza has turned it on recently scoring six goals in their last seven games, sitting just one off the league lead. He's big with good speed for his size and can break an offside trap, this is a big game for Ugo Ihemelu to shut him down.

Bench production We're not going to have another walkover like last weekend against Portland, this one is very likely to be tied with 30 minutes left and there needs to be a spark off the bench. Could it be one of the Open Cup heroes in Villar or Rodriguez?

Referee

Referee: Jorge GONZALEZ
MLS Career Stats: 61 games, 3.3 Y/g, 18 R
Including Playoffs: 66 games, 3.3 Y/g, 20 R
MLS 2011: 8 games, 2.5 Y/g, 1 R
Assistant Referees: Bill DITTMAR and Paul SCOTT
Fourth Official: Mark DECLOUET

 

Prediction

FC Dallas is notorious for playing poorly in front of big crowds at PHP. I see a bit of a let down after Tuesday's game against an ultra-solid Columbus team that doesn't give up anything easy. Hope I'm wrong as a win today would bring first place within touching distance. 

FC Dallas 0 Columbus Crew 0