FC Dallas hopes to extend their winning ways this weekend as they hit the road for the first time in 2014. Sporting KC will be the first road test for Oscar Pareja as manager of FC Dallas.
SKC is the defending MLS Cup Champions and have been very busy as of late. On Wednesday they downed Mexican side Cruz Azul 1-0 in the first leg in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals. SKC will have to face Cruz Azul again next Wednesday so there could be a chance for some key players getting some rest in this match.
FC Dallas Notes:
No wins in Week 2 since 2007 - Hard to believe it but FCD has not won a Week 2 match since Steve Morrow was the head coach back in 2007. The team has gone 0-3-3 in that span.
Injury notes - FCD will likely be without Raul Fernandez (hip), John (hamstring), London Woodberry (just placed on the DL with a hamstring issue), Zach Loyd, Walker Zimmerman (hamstring) and Stephen Keel. All were dealing with injuries through the preseason. Only Loyd and Keel have a chance at seeing the bench this weekend however.
Quick stats from Montreal - Here are some quick hits from the Montreal game thanks to Opta:
Benitez: 37 of 56 passes completed, three interceptions, 121 total actions.
Hedges: 12 clearances, 93% of passes were completed.
Diaz: 43 of 49 passes completed (88%).
Castillo: six successful dribbles.
Perez: 10 headers won.
Keys to three points:
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More SKC Previews
The fact that Sporting KC has to deal with the CCL right now gives me some hope going into this game. SKC will be playing their third game in eight days and will still have the return leg to Mexico to deal with next week. That will cause head coach Peter Vermes to get creative with his lineup and player selection on Saturday.
Sporting is the type of team that does cause some issues for a team like Dallas. They bring a ton of pressure from the front line all the way to their defense. That high pressure causes issues for a defense like Dallas due to the weak passing game that they have out of the back. Matt Hedges was better in the first week but he'll have to carry more of the load if Homegrown defender Moises Hernandez gets another start. Pareja could settle things down a bit with veteran Stephen Keel in place of Hernandez but I'm not totally sold that he'll make that switch just yet.
As long as FCD controls the possession and keeps their passing clean, they should stand to do well against a tired SKC team.
Along with the passing out of the back, Dallas has to find ways to get the ball wide and apply pressure of their own. We saw in week one against Montreal that when Dallas goes wide with pace, good things tend to happen. Mauro Diaz will be key in the attack, just like he was a week ago. Keeping him up right and able to find open passing lanes will go a long way in earning points out of this match.
Given the fact that SKC may be tired, this would be a great game for Pareja to push things up front by spreading out this SKC team. Make them chase the game from the get-go would be great to see out of this young Dallas attack.
Lastly, this one could come down to set pieces. Dallas is good at scoring goals on set pieces, due to their size across the field. But SKC is also a strong team on set pieces thanks to their bigs out of the back. Aurelien Collin and Matt Besler cause defenses a ton of trouble on set pieces and Graham Zusi is pretty darn good at finding them in the penalty box.
This game really could go either way for me. I think as long as Dallas keeps their passing clean out of the back and that they maintain the pressure on SKC up front, they'll stand a chance at getting three points here. I think though that defensively Dallas still has some work to do and it will show again this weekend. But saying that, I think a road draw isn't out of the question either. This should be a fun one to watch.
FC Dallas 2, Sporting KC 2