FC Dallas made a statement just two weeks ago at home. When they beat Real Salt Lake at Toyota Stadium, Oscar Pareja's side capped a run of four consecutive victories, vaulting them to the top of the table. Last week, Dallas suffered its first defeat in nine games at the hands of Chicago.
In this league, there are no easy games. Real Salt Lake is a formidable side that is even more so at home.
For the first time this season, my preview won't match my prediction.
Run of play
As is generally the case, my FC Dallas side had the advantage of the run of play. As was the case two weeks ago, Real Salt Lake was really tough to take the ball away from. Salt Lake had the clear majority of possession, but as has been the case in recent history FC Dallas was quick and lethal on the counter attack.
In the first half, Victor Ulloa stole a pass and fed a perfectly-weighted through-ball Tesho Akindele who powered a left-footed shot home from just inside the 18-yard box.
Real Salt Lake had a few good chances early in the second half, but Dallas defenders Zach Lloyd and Matt Hedges were quick and strong in regaining possession.
At the half, Fabian Castillo moved from a wing position to a forward position. In the 78th minute, Castillo sped down the left-center channel. His first shot was saved, but Castillo tapped the rebound home.
For the first time this season, my prediction is going to be a complete departure from the video game. Here's why:
First of all, each time Dallas has messed with its midfield, there have been issues. Ulloa has been great with gifted, experienced midfielders around him, but the addition of Kellyn Acosta and Ryan Hollingshead to the lineup at the same time is simply not enough of a threat. If the lineup on matchday this weekend is similar, Castillo and Escobar's speed won't matter.
Real Salt Lake will exploit possession throughout the midfield and eventually have enough attack to get themselves at least a goal or two. Call me randomly pessimistic, but I think the best Dallas does in this one is a draw.
FIFA14 Score: FC Dallas 2-0 Real Salt Lake
Prediction: FC Dallas 1-2 Real Salt Lake