Oscar Pareja's club have gone unbeaten in their last five matches and have a solid 5-1-2 record since the beginning of April. While injuries caused some issues early on for this club, young players such as Plano's own Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown are stepping up to make this club much better.
FC Dallas Notes:
Jacobson back. The good news from this week's practices is that Andrew Jacobson should be fit and ready to go for Saturday's match in Colorado. He didn't travel with the club on Tuesday to Fort Lauderdale for the Open Cup match but was active in training on Thursday and Friday. Good timing for him to be back with Je-Vaughn Watson's call up by Jamaica kicking in this weekend.
Assist men. After the last match, both Michel and David Ferreira are now tied for second most assist in MLS. Each have four on the season. Though we know how valuable Michel has been elsewhere this season in the attack. He alone has contributed to 11 of FC Dallas 21 goals. Having that kind of production in the midfield is huge.
International duty. This will be the last game for both Raul Fernandez and Blas Perez for a couple weeks. Both are called up by their respective national sides and will be reporting after this game.
I have to say, the more I look at this Colorado team the more I find them to be a tricky team to figure out. Their record as of late does speak very well of them but their wins come against clubs like Toronto, Chivas (twice), and Columbus. Injuries have caused issues for this team early on but some players are getting healthier each week.
Colorado loves to use their speed up front with Brown and Atiba Harris attacking from the wings. Edson Buddle has started to show well for the Rapids in the last few games when he is healthy. So far he has two goals on the season. Amazingly Buddle and four other players have two goals apiece to lead the club in scoring.
The main threat tomorrow may however be Brown. The rookie forward has been very good this season scoring two goals and adding in a club high four assists. His fellow rookie, Powers, is also a threat from the midfield and has proven a couple times this season that he can score from long range.
Pareja had tried to build his club around a 4-3-3 formation but due to injuries and other things he has shifted more recently into a 4-2-3-1 kind of formation that does mimic the 4-3-3 style of attack.
Here is the latest projected lineup for Pareja:
GK: Clint Irwin; RB: Brian Mullan; CB: Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor; LB: Chris Klute; CM: Dillon Powers, Pablo Mastroeni; RM: Atiba Harris, AM: Nick LaBrocca; LM: Deshorn Brown; FW: Edson Buddle
Keys to Three Points
Work it wide. I say this every week but it is true once more. Dallas' biggest success points this season come from two areas, set pieces and a wide position. Sometimes both. Colorado is a team you can spread out and control with possession from the wings. That sort of possession and control in a game can and will lead to quality chances. Colorado has good defenders in the back on the wide areas but deal with the speed of guys like Jackson and Fabian Castillo for 90 minutes can always be a tricky thing for them. That is why you spread this team out and make them chase the game.
Work the Perez-Ferreira combo. This is a good game for Dallas to go strongly on the Blas Perez-David Ferreira combination. Both work well together and Perez is excellent at holding up the play up front to allow Ferreira and the rest of the midfield to join in on the attack. Also, late in the game having Eric Hassli off the bench could prove to be a lot for Colorado to handle.
Pressure, pressure, pressure. Colorado has been much better defensively than what we saw earlier in the year. Part of that is due to Clint Irwin in goal and the other side of that is due to Pablo Mastroeni in the midfield. He's pulling the strings yet again but Dallas can counter that with pressure. Constant pressure from the forwards and midfielders could cause their back line to give up bad passes and easy chances. This will be key in the first 15 minutes of the game as the Rapids love to press early as well.
This won't be an easy game for FC Dallas but thankfully the club does have a fairly first choice lineup going into this match. Both teams had to deal with the midweek stuff and both were in Florida. Dallas may have used a better lineup in their USOC match than Colorado did but those minutes and miles on the legs still stand. If Dallas can withstand the early pressure from the Rapids and find one of their own before halftime like they have been doing lately, they should be able to get at least some points out of this one. Colorado won't be a push over and I see them finding a way through at least once as well.
I think in the end this one ends level. Both teams are good but both will be a bit gassed by the end. A draw seems fair and I'm sure many of you will take it too.
Score: Colorado 1, Dallas 1