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FC Dallas vs Vancouver Whitecaps: Preview and prediction

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FC Dallas hopes to clinch a playoff berth this weekend.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are nearly here as FC Dallas hopes to punch their ticket this weekend as they travel to Canada to battle the Vancouver Whitecaps.

FCD is coming off a big win last week over Seattle while the Whitecaps come into this match on a good note of their own after downing Real Salt Lake last week.

These two sides have met twice already this season, with FC Dallas taking the most recent match in September with a 2-1 score.

FC Dallas Notes:

Injury report:

Out: George John (knee), Hendry Thomas (ACL tear),

Questionable (but not on the official report): Mauro Diaz (hamstring) and Fabian Castillo (hamstring)

When FCD scores the most. According to the club's game notes, FC Dallas is tied for first in MLS (10) with the Colorado Rapids in goals scored between the 16th and 30th minutes this season. Dallas is also tied with Real Salt Lake in goals allowed in the opening 15 minutes of a match. Both teams have allowed just two.

Michel's effect. In the 13 matches in which Michel has logged 90 minutes this season, the Brazilian set piece specialist has scored seven goals and has three assists. Since July 19, Michel has played a role in 14 of Dallas' last 21 goals.

Youth movement. FC Dallas has 11 players under the age of 22, 14 under the age of 23 and 16 are 24 or younger. Of the nine teams in the Western Conference, FC Dallas (25.5) is the fourth‐youngest [VAN (24.4) COL (25.1) and RSL (25.4).

Consecutive starts. FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja has only started the same group in back-to‐back games twice this season (4/12 & 5/31). Once this season (5/4), Pareja was forced to make five changes to the lineup (the most so far this season). Including U.S. Open Cup matches (4) Zach Loyd (27), Victor Ulloa (24) and Raul Fernandez (12) have started consecutive matches (minimum of 10).

Quick Notes:

REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Joe Fletcher; JAR (opposite): Baboucarr Jallow; 4th: Juan Guzman
MLS Career: 193 games; FC/gm: 26.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 56; pens: 68

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: VAN: Jordan Harvey, Sebastian Fernandez, Pedro Morales, Russell Teibert ...
DAL: Victor Ulloa
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Gershon Koffie, Andy O'Brien, Mauro Rosales, Kendall Waston,
Matias Laba, Steven Beitashour ... DAL: Fabian Castillo, Matt Hedges, Blas Perez, Je-Vaughn Watson, Adam Moffat,
Michel
DISABLED LIST: VAN: Caleb Clarke (season-ending injury) ... DAL: Hendry Thomas (season-ending injury)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (10 meetings): FC Dallas 7 wins, 18 goals ... Whitecaps FC 1 win, 8 goals ... Ties 2
AT VANCOUVER (5 meetings): Whitecaps FC 1 win, 6 goals ... FC Dallas 2 wins, 8 goals ... Ties 2

Coaches record: Carl Robinson vs. DAL: P2 W0 L1 T1 ... Oscar Pareja vs. VAN: P8 W3 L3 T2

Prediction:

Going on the road is always tough in this league and Vancouver is one of the better teams in their own building. FCD though has done well in Vancouver. Something has to give. I think with as much on the line as there is at the moment for both sides this one will be fairly physical from start to finish, which could play favor for Vancouver.

To me this one comes down to how well FCD defends in the midfield. Stopping Pedro Morales is key but also slowing down whatever they throw up front is as well. If FCD can spread Vancouver in the attack, good things will follow. Lastly, taking advantage of set pieces will be big for FCD too. I think in the end though this one ends level, it just feels like a draw at the moment with Fabian Castillo in doubt for this game.

FC Dallas 1, Vancouver 1

What do you think the score will be? Sound off below in the comments section.