FC Dallas are currently top of both the Western and overall standings going into this weekend with the visitors to Toyota Stadium this time being a San Jose Earthquakes team who haven't won on the road since last August's triumph at D.C. United. Seeing as FC Dallas have been undefeated at home since that same month themselves, on paper this should be a relatively comfortable evening for FCD. But as the saying goes, soccer isn't played on paper.
For whatever reason, FCD has always had its share of problems with home fixtures against the Quakes, having won just four of their last ten matches against them in Frisco. The Californian visitors just know how to make things difficult when it's least expected and this may be another one of those times where FCD will have to fight hard for the points in a game they'd usually win.
San Jose have had several problems so far this year when dealing with selections because of injuries and suspensions. Clarence Goodson, Marc Pelosi, Anibal Godoy, and Chad Barrett are all missing once more for them while Simon Dawkins returns to the fold from his one-game suspension following a red card in Week 3 against LA Galaxy.
Attacking threat of Thompson
With Godoy out once again, it will be Tommy Thompson who will come in for him in midfield. This change oversaw an improvement in attacking involvement in the midfield as Thompson is a much more adventurous player having spent most of his young career as a forward. The two players' attacking dashboards in the last two games shows how different they are in the way they play and the spaces they like to attack.
Thompson's attacking dashboard against D.C. United:
Godoy's attacking dashboard against LA Galaxy:
While it must be noted that one is likely to have more success and freedom going forward against an out of form D.C. than against an early MLS Cup contender in LA, Thompson does add more to this team from an offensive perspective. Expect to see him making plenty of runs into spaces and giving meaning to the phrase 'possession with a purpose' whenever the Quakes are on the ball.
MPG the Earthquake engine
Matias Perez Garcia may have only started once so far in 2016, but he was a driving influence for SJ in that match against D.C. last week. He completed 34 out of 41 passes, which was unsurprisingly a team best on the day for the Quakes, and spread around the attacking third throughout the contest. He's a player who thrives with freedom and if given the key to do whatever he wants by Dominic Kinnear tonight, he could be the decisive player in any possible Quakes result.
Below is MPG's passing dashboard against D.C. from last week:
Should Kinnear have done his homework and paid attention to FCD's defensive problems on the left with Maynor Figueroa struggling as of late, this could be an opportunity to unleash MPG and attack that side whenever possible. If Marvell Wynne joins in on any forays forward down that flank, Oscar Pareja may need his Colombian maestro Fabian Castillo to offer some help to avoid putting the 33-year old Honduran Figueroa into outnumbered situations.
While there may be some difficulty trying to figure out certain debatable parts of both teams' lineups, the danger men on both sides are obvious and for FCD, the key to winning may well be to shut down the threats from SJ's flanks and keep a close eye on Chris Wondolowski who has a nose for goal as he has for several years now. The return of Mauro Diaz will give the team the offensive boost it needs to break down the Quakes' defense, but even without him, there's enough there to ensure yet another home win for FCD.