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FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers, Week 21: The Hat Trick

The season rolls on, and so does the winning streak.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

As bad as the road trip was, it's just as fortunate that the team returned home for this long stretch of games. As Portland comes to town and Tissuegate comes to mind, here are my three thoughts on the week:

The Will To Win

Both Portland and Dallas come into Saturday's game with recent success. FC Dallas is on a four-game winning streak, and while only having one point in their last two games, Portland has won seven of their last 10. So, where is the difference going to come from in this game? The lack of Will Johnson. The Portland central midfielder will miss tomorrow's game because of a red card suspension, and they'll miss his playmaking and distribution ability. Johnson has started seven games this season, and the team is 5-1-1 in those games, and just 4-6-4 when he does not.

Like Mauro Diaz, Johnson has the ability to make the players around him better, whether or not he even gets on the scoresheet. With a guy like Johnson out, Portland will have to work harder to find scoring chances.

Identity Crisis

Last season, FC Dallas was built on offense. The team tied a club record with 55 goals scored. This season, the team is on pace for only 47 goals. Instead, defense has been the biggest key, tallying eight shutouts, already two more than last season's count. While the offense has not necessarily fallen off, they're tied for second in the West in goals scored, the defense has really become a strong point on the team.

This is highlighted in how during last week's game, Dan Kennedy became the holder of this season's longest shutout streak at 349 minutes.

Fresh Faces

The team has brought in several players this summer, but none of them have really been able to get solid minutes yet. Rolando Escobar, Bakary Soumare and now Ezequiel Cirigliano can all have an impact on the team, and it's equally refreshing to know that this team is adding so many viable bench options. Last week, while in small sample size, Escobar did an excellent job of coming on late and keeping possession while FC Dallas looked for what would be the eventual game-winner. If these players can come in and put in solid work, that only makes this team all the more dangerous.