FC Dallas looks to knock off the Seattle Sounders this weekend in Washington. For the second meeting of the season, the two sides are currently in opposite directions as FCD has been struggling as of late due to a long road trip, while the Sounders are finally getting healthy enough to lead the Western Conference.
So what should we expect this weekend? Lets dive into the Hat Trick of things to watch out for on Saturday in Seattle.
Last year, the Sounders as we all remember knocked out FCD from the playoffs on the new away goal rule. Dallas went into Seattle and got a draw but failed to advance thanks to Seattle scoring in the first leg of the series in Frisco.
Given how the first three games have gone on the road in this five-game trip, you have to think that FCD will come out with a sense of urgency to get a goal and get a result in Seattle. Oscar Pareja will have to figure out what lineup will work best on the road in this game given all the international call ups, the suspension to Je-Vaughn Watson and the injury to Matt Hedges.
Patch work in the defense
FC Dallas will likely see a shift in their defense again this weekend as Hedges could miss the game to go along with the suspension of Watson. We should see Zach Loyd get back into the lineup at one of the wing-back spots. Given everything going on it could also see the first start of the season for veteran Stephen Keel. The curly-haired defender hasn't seen the field since last summer, spending the last 10 months on the injury report.
The bigger question in my mind is who will be on the other full back spot. Rookie Otis Earle is really about the only natural full back that the team has on the roster available right now but we haven't seen a second out of him this season on the field. Pareja could use the veteran Michel at left back, his old natural position from when he first came to Dallas in this game. Neither are a great option in my book as one puts a completely untested rookie or a aging veteran out in a key role.
There is no getting around it, the pressure on the defense will have to be absorbed by guys in the midfield like Victor Ulloa and Kyle Bekker. If they don't take the pressure off the back four, it will be a long night in Seattle.
Stopping Deuce (and maybe Oba)
The last time FCD and Seattle squared off this season it was not the match most would have expected. Both teams were missing loads of key players all over the field and the result showed for it in a 0-0 draw. This time around, the Sounders look to be a little closer to full strength as they'll really only be missing Marco Pappa (international duty) and maybe Chad Barrett (injury).
This likely means FCD will see the dynamic attacking duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins for the first time this season. The duo has combined for 13 goals and nine assists this season.