FC Dallas kicks off the Western Conference finals with a trip to Oregon to battle the Portland Timbers.
FC Dallas notes:
Injuries: Out: Bakary Soumare (concussion), Rolando Escobar (facial fracture)
Goals against. FC Dallas has improved its goals against average this season. Last year, the squad allowed 1.32 goals per game. This season the back line has reduced that number to 1.18 per match.
First goal is key. FCD has a 15‐1‐2 record this season when scoring first. Dallas' only regular loss was a 2‐1 defeat to the LA Galaxy on Aug. 15. Seattle did manage to come from behind last week.
First half defense. FC Dallas has only allowed 13 goals in the opening 45 minutes of matches this season, which ranks first in MLS (tied with Seattle). The team has shutout its opponent through the first 45 minutes of the match 21 times this season or 68% of the time.
Playing the kids. Dallas' Homegrown players logged a league high 4,607 minutes (14%) of the team's total minutes in 2014. Dallas is leading the charge in MLS again this season with 6,373 minutes (20%) played by Victor Ulloa, Moises Hernandez, Kellyn Acosta, Alejandro Zendejas, Coy Craft and Jesse Gonzalez. The Revolution rank second with 4,343 minutes played. Dallas' Homegrowns have logged 1,900+ more minutes than any other team in MLS.
Key player for FCD: Michael Barrios. We saw in the last game against Seattle that Barrios is taking a big step forward here in the playoffs. If he can continue that path and terrorize the Timbers on the wings like he did Seattle, FCD will be in a good position to leave Portland with a result that they need.
Biggest question: Will Pareja missing time this week affect the team?
I hate to bring up the thought but with Oscar Pareja's mother passing away this week in Colombia, you have to wonder what kind of mental state he will be in when he joins the club in Portland. One hope can be that the team rallies around him like I believe they will and get a good result here in Portland.
The way both teams start will really dictate how this series goes. I think Portland will come out looking for that early advantage but the counter attack of FCD will be the key that gets them on the board in this one. Portland will get an equalizer letting the return to Dallas be in FCD's favor.
FCD 1, POR 1
How to watch
Match date/time: Sunday, 11/22, 6:30PM
Venue: Providence Park, Portland, OR
TV: Fox Sports 1
Online: Fox Sports 2 Go
Look out for our game thread, which will go up an hour before kick off.