As MLS teams are beginning to work off the winter rust and come into better form, FC Dallas has gotten off to a great start. The team heads to Oregon for their second road test of the year and it won't come easy in the form of the Portland Timbers. Here's what you should watch for in this weekend's game:
Don't Sleep on the Timbers
Portland might be winless on the year, but they are far from deserving the last place spot in the conference standings. In each of their first four games, they've had a passing accuracy of 72 percent or better, including 87 percent in their 2-1 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. Also in that game, they dominated just about every facet of it besides late-game defending, including 66 percent of the possession.
The Timbers are missing several pieces right now including Will Johnson, 2014 MVP candidate Diego Valeri, Ben Zamanski and Jack Jewsbury. The Timbers only have three goals through their first four games, which all have come from Fanendo Adi, but players like Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe will not make this game easy on FCD's back line.
Providence Park Woes
FC Dallas has never won at Providence Park. The Timbers have won three matches, with the teams splitting two draws, including last summer's 2-2 draw which saw FC Dallas end the game with nine men and a 2-0 lead blown late. That game could've been won if cooler heads had prevailed, but as we all know, that was not a fun June night.
This season, however, those mental frustrations shouldn't be in play. FC Dallas is coming off of having to play a man down, and I'm certain that players will think twice before entering into risky challenges. FC Dallas should be lucky that they're catching Portland while they aren't hot and don't have their choice lineup. They're incredibly tough to beat when they're at full force — unfortunately for them, that hasn't been the case of late.
Who plays? Who sits?
I think we're all pretty used to the fact now that when it comes to predicting an FC Dallas lineup, it's anything but predictable. This weekend's game is no different with the added concerns and unknowns surrounding Mauro Diaz. Diaz hasn't practiced recently and he sat out last week's game. If there's any injury concern, I'd much rather leave him in Dallas than risk anything. With that, I think we see a similar line up to last week, except a swap of Blas Perez for David Texeira and the return of Moises Hernandez for suspended Kellyn Acosta.
If FCD can keep themselves out of card trouble and if they can limit the movement of Darlington Nagbe, the team has a real shot to end their woes in Portland.
That's all I've got for this edition, comment on any thoughts and enjoy the game!