FC Dallas Notes:
Goal scoring. FC Dallas scored their first goal within the first 15 minutes of the match last week against Seattle. They now have scored in every 15 minute interval of a game this season, making them the only team in MLS to do so in 2014.
Unbeaten in regular season play against TFC at home. Outside of a lone CCL match in 2011, Toronto has yet to beat FC Dallas in Frisco. The Hoops own a commanding 4-0-2 record against the Reds.
Quick stats from Seattle game - Here are the Opta stats from last week's game:
Michel: 120 actions, 11 headers won (both game highs).
Matt Hedges: Seven clearances, nine interceptions.
Fabian Castillo: Four successful dribbles.
Mauro Diaz: 41 successful passes, five key passes, four successful dribbles
Keys to three points:
The hype surrounding Toronto FC is pretty darn real. Michael Bradley has made them an instant success in 2014 as the Reds have won games in Seattle and in Columbus to start the season.
The injury bug has caught up with Ryan Nelsen's squad though. Designated Player Jermain Defoe will not be available for Saturday's game and there is still a question mark surrounding Bradley's availability as well. The team will also be without veteran Dwayne De Rosario and former FCD defender Jeremy Hall.
Toronto doesn't beat teams with possession or loads of passing. Instead they build up their attack with quick counters to Defoe when he is healthy or to other DP forward Gilberto. Bradley is a key cog in that quick counter attack style but so is Homegrown midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who is healthy enough to go in this one after being out for a couple weeks with an injury of his own.
Dallas will need to key in on winning the wings in this one and making sure to free up Diaz in the offensive third to let him set up the attack. Toronto hasn't given up a goal on a set piece this year and are a fairly discipline team too. But to be fair they haven't played a team with the speed that FCD has either this season. Oscar Pareja will want to push the attack with the speed on the wings like he has done over the last few weeks.
Defensively, Dallas will want to make sure not to give up any space in the middle of the park. Last week against Seattle, when Clint Dempsey was given space, he was the most dangerous for the Sounders. Now, Toronto doesn't have a Dempsey-type player available but they do have enough talent up front with Gilberto and former FCD winger Jackson to cause issues if given the space.
To me this is a game FCD can not afford to lose at home. Toronto is banged up and are missing key players. I think Toronto will give Dallas fits in the defensive third as they've done a good enough job of clogging up passing lanes this season to limit want teams can do against them. Still, the speed should be more than enough if Dallas plays to the wings and forces Toronto to be pinned back even more than they normally are.
FC Dallas 2, Toronto 0