Decision Day is upon us here. FC Dallas and the New York Red Bulls will kickoff at the same time on Sunday evening to determine who will go home with some silverware and who will be going into the playoffs as just a conference champion.
We also know the players involved here. FC Dallas will face a desperate San Jose Earthquakes team that still has a shot at reaching the post season thanks to Sporting KC's loss at home last night. New York on the other hand gets the 2015 Wooden Spoon winners in Chicago, a place they haven't won at in since 2005.
So what gives? Does FC Dallas go all out for the Shield knowing that they're facing a team that has their season on the line? Or do they hold back and conserve the energy for a playoff run that will undoubtedly be a tough thing with potential matchups against LA, Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or KC loom?
Reasons for going all out:
1. The Shield. Duh. This is a no brainer as FCD looks to add to their trophy case (which is rather depressing if you've ever seen it. Winning the Shield means they will double their MLS/US trophies in that said case. Given that FCD is one of the MLS originals without a MLS Cup or a Shield trophy means that they are due and it needs to happen. Not to mention, who knows how things will go next season, so why not go all out for it on Sunday?
2. Momentum into the playoffs. Let's face it. MLS is a league of highs and lows. We know how teams are as they get into the playoffs. You want as much momentum going into the second season as you can here, especially in the Western Conference. A win on Sunday would mean that FCD picked up 13 of 15 points in the month of October.
3. More big game experience for the youngsters. If anything, keeping the mentality that Oscar Pareja has been preaching out of this bunch all month that they are treating every game like an elimination game is key for the growth of this team. This game can easily be translated into another playoff game with so much on the line.
Reasons for going a little conservative:
1. Health. This is a pretty obvious one to mention as guys like Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Mauro Diaz, and Kellyn Acosta have been banged up a lot this year. One more physical game, against one of the league's most physical teams, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to give some key players an extra weekend of rest going into the playoffs.
2. Goal differential in Shield race. If there wasn't such a gap between NY and FCD in the Shield race in how the tiebreakers were laid out, this one may look a little different. We know that if both teams win and FCD doesn't outscore SJ by six or seven goals on Sunday, that they won't win the Shield.
3. Playing to history. What I mean by this is that FCD has not win a season finale since 2003. Let that one sink in for a moment as some of you readers may have been in grade school back then. History in this league does do a good job of repeating itself and in a way this is almost an equivalent of steering into the ice. You know it is likely going to be a rough game so why not hold back a little to make sure you have a healthy and card free group going into the playoffs.
So what are you going with this weekend? All for the Shield or holding back for a potentially better playoff run?