FC Dallas continues to come out of the gates with blistering pace as the team has three wins and three games. FC Dallas will take on its toughest competition of the season and the team who knocked them out of last year's MLS Cup playoffs, Seattle Sounders, Saturday night.
Here's what you should watch for:
Test of Depth
With international call-ups coming into play for the first time this season this weekend, MLS teams will be challenged to use unconventional formations, starters and tactics. This is no different for FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders as combined, the teams will be without eight players. Among those, big names that will be missing are Clint Dempsey (although he gained an injury in training and will now be out 2-3 weeks), Marco Pappa, Blas Perez, Moisés Hernández, and JeVaughn Watson.
Both of these teams do have solid depth, but this early in the season, guys with few minutes logged thus far will be called on. Included in this group might be Walker Zimmerman and Kellyn Acosta, who will look to fill a back line that had several players called up. Seattle might possibly be without Osvaldo Alonso, as he's questionable after recovering from a February groin surgery. He underwent a full training session early in the week, but his status for Saturday is still unknown. It will be interesting to see how the clubs adapt to less-than-perferred rosters, although both Sigi Schmid and Oscar Pareja have plenty of weapons at their disposal.
Revenge at Hand
We're all very aware of last November and how the away goals rule sent Seattle through to the MLS Cup Semifinals after a 1-1 draw on aggregate. FC Dallas was the only team not to lose in last year's playoffs, and they also held Seattle scoreless at Centurylink, something only two other teams did last year, Vancouver Whitecaps and LA Galaxy.
FC Dallas proved to be a worthy opponent for the Sounders and while Seattle did go though, it was hardly clear who was the better team. Saturday, FC Dallas has the chance to possibly mend some of the wounds the Sounders left them, and that might come through the foot of David Texeira. The Uruguayan striker has scored three goals in two home games against the Sounders last season. If he ends up starting in place of Blas Perez, he'll certainly look to score against the team he's done so well against. On the other hand, if Seattle keys on to Texeira, that might open up other options forTesho Akindele or Fabian Castillo.
Through two home games, it's fair to say that the crowds at Toyota Stadium have been less than what FC Dallas became accustomed to last season, with the first two posted numbers being significantly below (an average of 14,755) last season's average attendance of 16,816.
I trust the first two games are not going to in any way reflect the number of fans who show up for FCD games this year, and I think that will start this weekend. Seattle is a big name squad and those obviously bring in larger crowds. Improved weather conditions also might help put more bodies in the seats, as well as the team's very hot start. Fans love cheering for winning teams.
That's all i've got for this edition of what to watch for, be sure to secure your tickets for this weekend's game, it should be a dandy.