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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Vancouver Whitecaps

Three defenders for three points and no three-game losing streak? FC Dallas plays host to Vancouver Whitecaps, hoping to snap its two game losing steak.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

If third time is a charm, FC Dallas will need it to be more true than ever to earn three points in its match against Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday at Toyota Stadium.

After holding a 10 game unbeaten streak heading into the August 30 contest with Chicago Fire, FCD has fallen to back-to-back opponents and face a possible three-game losing streak depending on this weekend's result.

Injury Report

Vancouver, unfortunately, faces the downside with the theme of threes. Bad things appear in threes, and manager Carl Robinson will see that in Frisco as he'll be without three players.

Out: F Caleb Clarke (season-ending quad injury), M Gershon Koefie (right foot sprain), M Andre Lewis (ACL sprain).

International Duty

The Copa Centroamericana has FCD's Blas Perez out for the home game, but it'll also have the 'Caps defender Johnny Leveron away with his Honduran squad.

Projected Lineup

There's nothing special to Vancouver's formation; the Whitecaps will continue with the traditional 4-4-2 formation.

GK: David Ousted; LB: Jordan Harvey; CB: Kendall Watson, Andy O' Brien; RB: Steven Beitshour; LM: Russel Teibert; CM: Pedro Morales, Matias Laba; RM: Mauro Rosales; F: Sebastian Fernandez, Erik Hurtado.

Key Matchup

Peter Luccin vs. Morales - Luccin looks to get his third start of the season. The French midfielder has only seen 245 minutes on the pitch this season, but the minutes he sees Saturday could be the most crucial. He and his fellow center mid, Victor Ulloa, will have to contain one of the most explosive players in the game. Last meeting between the two teams, Morales netted a goal and found an assist. On top of that, he had 12 shots with five of them on target.

Keys to Three Points

Give no set piece. Vancouver thrives on set pieces, just like every other team. However, not every team has a set piece specialist such as Morales. In their midweek match with San Jose, Vancouver saw both their goals came from a set piece involving Morales.  First he buried another penalty kick - flashback to his penalty against FCD July 22 - and then he sent a corner kick perfectly placed for teammate Kendall Watson's head for the second goal.

Spark something together. FCD's only goal in its two-game losing streak has come from a free kick. The energy missing in the midfield and upfront the past two games needs to be prevalent in Saturday's match. Look for Fabian Castillo and Andres Escobar to use that dominating speed and foot skill to work something against the 'Caps backline.

Play tight on defense. No man should have any empty space or attempt on goal in FCD's defensive-third. The back three - Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges - will have to work well and not allow any empty gaps in the back. Vancouver exploited a hole in the early minutes of the last meeting, and that can't happen in Saturday's meeting. Even Dallas's offense isn't able to find the back of the net, the Hoops must hold a shutout for the first time since the 5-0 blowout over San Jose.