As the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs begin this week, FC Dallas gets to rest a little bit with the Knockout Round starting on Wednesday. Out of the two Western Conference matches, we know that FC Dallas will get either Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders or Sporting KC in the conference semifinals starting this Sunday.
But which team does our staff want to face these next two weekends? Here is who we’d like to see.
Cody Gamond - Real Salt Lake
RSL has to be the easiest match up for Dallas. Dallas lack of Diaz and general inability to attack without him pairs well with RSL's own defense first style. An RSL Dallas series wouldn't shock anyone if it ended 0-0 and went to penalties. Since their previous meeting, ending in a Dallas loss, RSL has fallen off, limping into the playoffs. RSL would also spare Dallas a Seattle repeat, which could be deadly this year.
RSL really is the easiest match up Dallas is liable to get in the entirety of the playoffs.
Edin Halilovic - Sporting Kansas City
SKC have only won 4 of their last 14 games in all competitions and have been struggling with inconsistency since mid April. Their away form has been poor since the first month of the season while they’ve had injury problems all year and continue to do so. While their form may be better than RSL’s for example going into the playoffs, their open style will give FCD better chances of succeeding over a two legged tie even without Mauro Diaz than RSL’s intense defensive approach would. With that said though, RSL would be the next best option for FCD to come up against first in the playoffs.
However, seeing as it’s unlikely to expect SKC or RSL spring upsets on the road against the more fancied Seattle and LA respectively, it seems like Dallas will meet Seattle in the Conference semifinals for the third year in a row. That remains to be seen but if it does come down to that, hopefully the end result will be more like the meetings in 2015 than in 2014.
Jason Poon - Real Salt Lake
RSL for no other reason than because I enjoy watching Dallas-Salt Lake kick off against one another. Though they are very scoring affairs, they’re a tactic nerds dream match up. RSL has put Mauro Diaz in their pocket this season, but jokes on them, we don’t have Diaz anymore! (Crying noise.) But the real reason for me comes down to commentary team. I'm at the mercy of MLS Live for the playoffs, and typically that means I will get the opposition feed. I'd prefer not to watch the playoffs in silence again because listening to Kasey Keller is absolute torture.
Drew Epperley - Sporting KC
Just based on form alone, I’d be fine with Real Salt Lake, who haven’t won since late August. But my gut tells me that the better matchup in this post season would be Sporting KC. The Sporks give Dallas a more favorable matchup in terms of what they do on the field with their formation and how FCD has played them this season. Not to mention I really want revenge for that loss at their building from earlier this year.
Nathan Hill - It doesn’t matter.
I don’t have a preference. Real Salt Lake is a tough place to play. Seattle are beatable but tricky with a crafty Lodeiro. Sporting Kansas City can do nasty things when the right switch is turned on. In the end though, they are all inferior to FC Dallas, so who the hell cares.
Ben Lyon - I could not care less
I kind of get the feeling that the club feels likewise, and why wouldn’t they? Every time they needed a win or a positive result this year, they found a way. US Open Cup? Check. Down a goal at home to Seattle when they needed 3 points? Check. Down 2 goals in Guatemala? Mercy.
In the end, they didn’t need the Shield-clinching draw on short rest after a LONG week, but they got it anyway. No team in MLS has played more games this year than FC Dallas, and no club has done remotely as good a job of answering adversity over the course of the last 8 months. ‘Busca la Forma’ seems straight out of Platitude 101, but teams like this are the reason slogans like this exist at all.
Even if the ‘experts’ don’t favor Dallas to lift the Cup (fairly on paper, if we’re being honest), it’s a fool’s errand to bet against this side finishing the journey. To me, I hope they face the ‘toughest’ competition all the way through to a home date on December 10th (I’m assuming New York Red Bulls so they’ll be the underdog yet again) and complete the greatest season in MLS history.