It's been a minute since there has been a "Behind Enemy Lines" post (thanks to a bad author... sorry, guys and gals), but it is no better time to get back on track than now with FC Dallas entering a home-and-home with third place Western Conference foe Vancouver Whitecaps. Can somebody say a hint of playoffs, much?
Outside back Steven Beitashour didn't pick up a red in the Whitecaps' match to San Jose, but card accumulation will sit him out for Wednesday's game. It was Beitashour's first match after a two-game absence.
FC Dallas isn't the only one missing a mate due to an international call-up. Vancouver will actually miss five. Sam Adekugbe, Kianz Froese and Marcos Bustos were called up to the Canada Men's National Team while Caleb Clarke is representing the U-23 Canadian side. Kendal Waston will be gone for this game due to international duty with Costa Rica while Darron Mattocks has been called up by Jamaica for next week's game.
Familiar formation? The Whitecaps will stick to a 4-2-3-1 style like FCD as they look to defend home before heading to Frisco next week.
GK: David Ousted; RB: Jordan Smith; CB: Tim Parker, Pa-Modou Kah; LB: Jordan Harvey; DM: Matias Laba, Gershon Koffie; RM: Cristian Techera; CM: Mauro Rosales; LM: Kekuta Manneh; F: Octavio Rivero
David Texeira vs. Kah - In Texeira Dallas trust... who would have guessed at the beginning of the season he'd be the one at this last stretch of the regular season? Nonetheless, the Argentine is heading into Wednesday's contest off a blazing brace to rival Houston Dynamo. In such a pivotal match in the race for Supporter's Shield, the striker has to continue that pace and get in-and-around that Whitecaps' backline led by Kah. An early strike can really set the tone for these two matches.
Keys to Three Points
Step up. Tesho Akindele will likely get the start on the left side in place for Fabian Castillo. Although his speed and skill can't be replaced, Akindele has big shoes to fill. Whether that's Akindele stepping up and providing early crosses or working his way to getting his name on the scoresheet, something has to give. Mauro Diaz will need to really control the pace of the game and create opportunities upfront.
Doing things right. Michael Barrios is untouchable. A lot of the things that Castillo creates on the left side can be done on the right with FCD's other Columbian. Dallas had four goals last match, and surprisingly Barrios' name didn't land on the scoresheet. He's about due for his seventh goal of the season, so let him exploit the right side.
Shutdown and shutout. Dallas' last shutout dates back to the win over Columbus on September 6. Now that's five games ago, but silly mistakes have been the difference in earning a clean sheet. FCD's backline looked good in Sunday's Texas Derby win, and that will have to continue Wednesday. If Zach Loyd and Matt Hedges can make it difficult for Rivero, Techera and Manneh to find the net at home, just imagine what it will do for those three's confidence at Toyota Stadium next week. This is essentially the playoffs; time to really show who is in it for it all.