Today is the final game of the month of March. Yep, fifth game of the early season and FC Dallas is on the road to take on the New England Revolution today. Dallas has a two game winning streak at hand as they take on a New England side that has only given up one goal in three games this season (a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union).
FC Dallas has done well against the Revs in the last couple of seasons, posting a 3-1-2 record in the last six games, dating back to late 2009. Before that, the history against New England isn't that kind to FCD. More specifically, The Revs are 7-0-1 against Dallas in their last eight home games against the Hoops, dating back to the 2004 season. Ouch. All-time in New England, Dallas is a meager 5-12-1. Double ouch.
Who's in goal. There were talks early in the week that Chris Seitz would be in goal for the second straight game. However, after Seitz and his fiancé had their first child born in the middle of the week, that seems in question. Seitz did travel with the team to New England but I'd lean on Raul Fernandez to be back in goal. The question with Fernandez earlier in the week was with the travel he would be consuming but given how he arrived back in Dallas for training on Wednesday, it would appear he has the inside track on this race.
How much Blas? Blas Perez on the other hand is a bigger question in my mind. Perez put in 180 solid minutes over the last week and a half with Panama in their two World Cup qualifiers. He netted a goal on Tuesday night against Honduras and arrived back in Frisco a couple days ago. The question will become, does Schellas Hyndman use a player that has just scored a goal to start the game or bring him on late in the game? We'll soon find out.
Revs defense. As mentioned above, the Revs defense has given up one goal this season. Just one in three games. The new look defense with rookie Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves and Homegrown defensive midfielder Scott Caldwell seems to be working for Jay Heaps. They pressure you like crazy and do a good job of marking key players in the attack.
I'd point out though that in the three games they played this season, they didn't face an attack quite like FC Dallas. Chicago in the season opener wasn't much of a threat. Philadelphia did manage three points on the Revs but I wouldn't label the Union world beaters on offense here either. Last week in the 0-0 draw to Sporting KC, Peter Vermes' club was missing some key players in the attack like Graham Zusi.
Revs attack. Only one goal scored this season, during their season opening win against the Chicago Fire. Yep. Just one Jerry Bengston goal scored this season for New England. But I will say this, they worry me in a game like this. Their second home game, on a day where the weather should be a little more favorable to them (low 50s, slight wind). They have a couple guys that do well in home games like Bengston and Lee Nguyen. They also have a guy named Juan Toja that most Dallas fans should remember. I wouldn't put it past Toja to step up in a big way for this game.
Depth. Thankfully, the Revs aren't super deep so there shouldn't be much coming off the bench. Maybe a Chad Barrett for the attack but no one that Dallas fans should absolutely fear seeing.
Injury report. Saer Sene is still hurt, that is definitely the Revs' biggest loss at the moment. They have a couple guys like Keyln Rowe is banged up but I would expect to see him out there today.
Keys to the Game
Work it wide. Spread the Revs out and make them chase this game. The times when Dallas has been successful on offense this season have been from a wide position. Use the speed of Fabian Castillo (if he starts) and Jackson Goncalves to work the Revs on the wings. I'd even go as far to say, test Farrell early. See if the rookie can handle the high pressure speed of Jackson.
Midfield battle. New England loves to sit two midfielders deep behind Toja. Very similar to how Dallas plays. Clyde Simms and Caldwell have done well so far together in the two games they've started together. They keep things tight and compact for the opposition. Michel and Andrew Jacobson will have a fun battle on their hands with those two today but Michel looks like an x-factor to me out there in this battle.
Come out firing. Dallas has to start this game well in my book. They've done well at keeping teams off the scoresheet in the first half but an early goal would certainly help in this one. Some early pressure would set the tone for the rest of the game.
Don't fall asleep. Can't state this enough. New England is just good enough here to work Dallas at home in a similar fashion to what Chivas USA did a couple weeks ago. I don't see a 3-1 scoreline here but the Revs have the pieces to be dangerous if they figure out how to do it. So far, their attack hasn't figured things out but before long they will. Nguyen and Toja will get on the same page before long and that could be tough to deal with.
Daniel ended his run 2-2 on the season. He nailed last week's score of 2-0 against RSL.
For me, this one is tricky. Dallas needs points on these two road games to return home against LA in a couple weeks with the Western Conference lead still in their hands. New England is a beatable team. Dallas is at full strength here for this game which should play into their hands. I think in the end, a draw is good enough. Dallas has to get some confidence built up on road games and a solid draw is a good way to start.
Score: 1-1 (Jackson goal)