FC Dallas clinched a playoff birth last week, but exhaling is hardly something they can afford over their final two regular season matches.
Two more weeks
Keeping good chemistry and flow going into the playoffs is now Oscar Pareja's main charge. The potential conflicting goals for Oscar Pareja over these final two weeks will be interesting. Injuries and player health have been huge factors for the Hoops over the course of the season. Will Pareja take advantage of the secure playoff spot to possibly rest players like Fabian Castillo, Andres Escobar for all or part of games leading up to the postseason?
This week, I went with the lineup that EA Sports gave me. That meant a 4-4-2 with Castillo and Perez up front, Tesho Akindele, Michel, Victor Ulloa, and Escobar across the midfield, and a defensive unit of Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, and Moises Hernandez defending, in front of Raul Fernandez. I know Chris Seitz got the start last week and did well, but I left Fernandez in because that's the lineup the game gave me. I also know that Hernandez will be unavailable after his straight red card against the Galaxy. I was actually surprised the game left him in the starting lineup. By the time I put two and two together, I was 5 minutes into the game and didn't want to start over.
I brought in some subs in the second half, though I think the subs will be different in the actual game. With a playoff spot in the bag, I would guess that some younger players might get the nod off the bench in the final home regular season game of the season. That's a complete guess though.
My FIFA14 FC Dallas squad came out like a ball of fire. Through controlled, nicely-paced passing, the Hoops controlled possession early. The first shot on-goal came from Blas Perez, and it found the upper-right corner. I thought it was just a fortunate piece of luck that my Dallas team scored so early, but it was just the opening salvo. By the eighth minute, Castillo found a seam down the left channel. A quick cross allowed Perez to tap the ball into an open-net and it was 2-0 before my Playstation hands were even warm.
Things didn't slow down from there. The first half actually had five goals: there from Perez (he finished his hat trick with a header off a corner kick), one from Castillo, and one from Akindele off a Ulloa through-pass.
The sixth goal turned out to be the only goal for either team during the second half. Escobar made a run down the left side, stopping abruptly before turning inside to beat the defender. With a second defender coming quickly and no good passing options, I tried my luck with a long shot from 10 yards outside the penalty area. In the video game, like in real life, these shots usually do not work. This one, however, ducked under the bar.
I can't say enough about the build-up and player movement in the first half. Perhaps EA Sports is rewarding Dallas fans this week. Perhaps I was just more relaxed in my gameplay. Maybe it was a combination. Colorado did a much better job or keeping some possession in the second half, but they never seriously threatened Fernandez. The final score of the video game was 6-0.
This team still flies under the national radar and is a potentially brutal dark-horse matchup for a postseason opponent.
Of course I don't think FC Dallas is going to win 6-0. With questions I have personally about who will and will not be available to play for Dallas, I wouldn't be surprised to see Colorado play really hard in this game and earn something like a 1-1 draw. That said, with the Hoops rolling at home, I'm going to predict a 3-1 FC Dallas victory, no matter who plays or doesn't play -- that's just how well things are going right now in Big D.