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Matchday 21: FC Dallas at Toronto FC

TORONTO - JULY 24: Chad Barrett #19 of Toronto FC chases down Jair Benitez #5 of FC Dallas at BMO Field during a MLS game July 24 2010 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
TORONTO - JULY 24: Chad Barrett #19 of Toronto FC chases down Jair Benitez #5 of FC Dallas at BMO Field during a MLS game July 24 2010 in Toronto Ontario Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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FC Dallas will look to end a 2-game winless streak in MLS as they travel north of the border to face off against a new look Toronto FC side tonight at 7PM.

Toronto FC, with just one win in their last 12 games, has been really poor this season. TFC has three wins all season and sit second from bottom in the Eastern Conference with 18 points from 21 games. They've been in a house-cleaning mode for the past couple of weeks shipping off many regulars and signing a couple of DP free agents in favor of a new look lineup featuring players like Ryan Johnson, Andy Iro, Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans.

BMO Field has not been unkind to Dallas in MLS play with FCD going 1-1-2 in the four games they've played there but this will be the first trip back since their 2010 MLS Cup Final loss to Colorado. For Dallas, this is the second game of a four week stretch in which FCD will have midweek games. 

Notes

Lineup shuffling A few quotes from Schellas recently have indicated that we could see a little bit of lineup shuffling tonight. That may mean Andrew Wiedeman at right back, Andrew Jacobson returning or even Eric Avila starting for someone like Jackson. It's almost assured that we will see some different starters either tonight or Saturday and you'd think this is the safer game to see that.

Unknown opponent It's very, very difficult to know what we will see from Toronto FC tonight. They've got new players, possibly a new system and unknowns all over the pitch. This can work in Dallas' favor which we will talk about in keys to the game, but safe to say there's really no use in gameplanning for this one.

Yellow cards Both Brek Shea and Jackson are in yellow card peril tonight meaning they will be out for the New York game if they pick up a card. I'm not sure it would be the worst thing in the world for one of them to pick up a yellow but you don't want to be missing both of them. For Toronto, starting defender Richard Eckersley will miss tonight's match because of this. 

Scoreboard watching With a win tonight, Dallas can pull back into a tie for second place in the league and potentially pull within a point of LA depending on how their match against Columbus goes. It's an extremely busy night around the league with 5 matches so keep your eyes on the scoreboard. 

Keep reading for keys to the match, referee and prediction

Keys to the match

Pressure every ball As we mentioned earlier, Toronto is an unknown tonight. That means you must focus on the only thing you can control which is how your team will play. Whenever you have a bunch of new players, there are going to be mistakes between teammates who don't know each other's tendencies. Dallas must pressure every ball tonight because there are going to be some sloppy giveaways. 

Quick start Toronto has allowed 8 goals in the first 15 minutes of games this season and is 0-9-2 when opponents score first. Dallas is an amazing 9-0-1 scoring first so a quick start would obviously be a huge help. 

Keep Plata contained Joao Plata is a guy who scares me for Toronto. He's a tiny, quick little dude that could give a Dallas backline that struggles with speed problems. It's up to the Dallas defensive midfield to make sure he doesn't find the ball with space going forward.

Referee

Referee: Hilario GRAJEDA
MLS Career Stats: 47 games, 3.7 Y/g, 9 R
Including Playoffs: 48 games, 3.6 Y/g, 9 R
MLS 2011: 9 games, 3.3 Y/g, 1 R
Assistant Referees: Paul SCOTT and Corey PARKER
Fourth Official: Daniel FITZGERALD

 

Prediction

Dallas hasn't played three bad games in a row since the start of the season. Toronto is a team in such flux that I don't feel like they can find the cohesion in one game to match up against this Dallas team that knows exactly what they want to do. Dallas scores early on a pourous Toronto back line and adds one late

3-1 FC Dallas