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The Hat Trick, FC Dallas vs. Columbus Crew SC

Key game Sunday despite both teams missing key players

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas takes its 12-8-5 season record on the road to take on Eastern Conference foe Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. Both teams will miss some familiar faces due to international duty, but that doesn't take away from the gravity of this match.Time for this week's Hat Trick:

Don't Repeat Last Year

Five FC Dallas players are representing their country this week. Compare this to Columbus' nine. Sunday's match can easily end in another 0-0 draw like last year's fiasco, but this doesn't need to be the case.

The Crew will rely on Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain to run the offense as star-striker Kei Kamara plays for his countryside, Sierra Leone. FC Dallas will likely start David Texeira and Rolando Escobar upfront. Texeira has two goals on the season while Escobar is still searching for his first goal for FC Dallas. One of these two will need to hit the back of the net.

Make Dallas Proud While Away

For Blas Perez, Je-Vaughn Watson, Moises Hernandez and Tesho Akindele, playing for their nation is something they've done throughout the season. For winger Fabian Castillo, this is something new.

The MLS All Star looks to make his international debut Tuesday against Peru, and it'll be interesting to see how he does in his first cap for Columbia. Will he be able to control the left flank the way he does with FC Dallas? As for FC Dallas on Sunday, Ryan Hollingshead or a player who hasn't seen as many minutes will have big shoes to fill with Castillo's absence.

Finish Strong

In the all-time series between FC Dallas and Columbus Crew SC, FCD has scored 23 of its 58 goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. Dallas' next best 15-minute interval against Columbus is the first 15 minutes of the second half where the team has scored 11 goals.

This season FC Dallas has allowed 10 of its 30 goals against in the last 15 minutes of the game. FCD can't afford to concede a costly goal late. FCD has to keep the attack up throughout the 90 minutes.