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FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers: What to watch for

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Can FC Dallas lock up third place?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Going into Saturday night, we all know that the game is going to have a playoff atmosphere to it as FC Dallas looks to lock-up the coveted third place spot and avoid the dreaded knockout game. With that being said, here's a few things to watch for in Saturday night's match.

Home Sweet Home

This season, FC Dallas have been nothing if not stellar at home. The team has won eight in a row, 12 of 16 and have taken 37 of 48 possible points.

The team is also scoring over two goals per game at home, scoring at least two in 13 of the 16 home games.

Historically-speaking, something I love to do, the team can tie the franchise's home win total of 13, set back in 1999 at the Cotton Bowl. This was pointed out in this Wednesday SportsDay article.

This being said, Portland is still outscoring its opponents on the road, 1.6 to 1.5. That, on top of an already playoff-chasing team, should make for a lovely, high-pressure match.

Home(grown) Sweet Home

Please don't hate me too much for that headline, it was just too good to pass up.

This year, it's no secret how big of a role that FCD Home Grown Players have had on the team's success. The team leads the league in HGP minutes played, and according to our very own Drew Epperley, have accounted for 14% of the team's total minutes played.

For a player like Victor Ulloa, who has had arguably the biggest impact on the team while making the smallest impact on the stat sheet, it was out of necessity that he got into the rotation when Mauro Diaz went down back in April. He never gave up that midfield role and has been a great filler in a central midfield that has experience it's share of injury woes.

Oscar Pareja has found the key to balancing his players' minutes, and he's done so with a mix of veterans, youth, and players in the peak of their primes. If it wasn't for the team's HGPs, a very solid argument could be made that the team would be in the shoes of a team like Portland —  merely fighting for a playoff spot. Look for those players to again push this team into even bigger, better things.

A FULL-filling Season

Something's wrong with the coffee I drank this morning, excuse my behavior.

I mentioned above about the success the team has had at Toyota Stadium, and a large aspect of that has been because of the fans. This season, the club is averaging 16,791 fans per game. That number is up by an average of over 1,400 fans per game, or 9.22%.

The team is now filling up 81% of the stadium, up from 75% last year. Obviously wins will draw, but I think it should be noted that with OP in charge, the team just has a better life, the players seem more into it all and in turn, the fans are coming in droves.

I would consider myself a soccer-literate individual, at least more than the average DFW resident, but what I've seen at games is regular individuals that are coming to see what all the fuss is about and they're becoming patrons that are genuinely into the games and are vying to better understand the games. It's a great new era this team has entered into, and that will be on display Saturday night in front of what probably will be another sellout for the team.

I apologize for the length, but, I hope you enjoy the read, and I hope you come see the team's home finale at Toyota Stadium at 7:30 Saturday.