The battle for who is the top dog in Major League Soccer is here. FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids square off this weekend for the first time in 2016 league play. It is a battle of 1v2 in the league standings as well.
Both teams come into the match off wins from last week (though FCD also picked up a win in the midweek in a USOC win over Houston on Wednesday). Colorado is riding a strong unbeaten run of 14 games right now and are unbeaten at home this season.
FC Dallas notes:
Injury update. The only injury is still with Zach Loyd. No new progress on where he is at in the concussion protocols.
Defense with Hedges. FC Dallas’ record when defender Matt Hedges starts is 8‐2‐4 this season. The only losses were against Sporting KC (2‐0 on June 19) and Houston (5‐0 on March 12). FCD has also given up eight fewer goals this season when he is on the field.
Second half scoring. According to the club’s game notes, Both Colorado and FC Dallas have scored 17 goals in the second half of matches this season. That explains a lot of Colorado’s 1-0 wins here too.
Key player for FCD: Michael Barrios. While Fabian Castillo will be the guy Colorado likely keys in on in this one, I look to Barrios to be the one that can turn it into another gear late in this one. Oscar Pareja opted to pull him early on Wednesday night in Houston, in order to keep him a bit fresher for this one. I expect FCD to target the right side of the field more with Barrios.
Biggest question: Is there enough gas in the tank to surprise the Rapids at home?
It isn’t just the travel, the crowded schedule at the moment or the altitude. No, those factors are all against FCD but so is the rivalry factor that Colorado seems to have in this series at the moment. We know these two teams don’t like one another but don’t be shocked to see Colorado try and bait FCD into some bad fouls early on in hopes of exposing tired minds. Staying composed throughout will be key for FC Dallas and finding ways late to hold off Colorado from finding another late game-winner will also be huge.
How to watch
Match date/time: Saturday, 7/23, 8:00PM
Venue: Dicks’ Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, CO
Online: MLS Live
Weather Forecast: Sunny, 83 degrees
Look out for our game thread, which will go up an hour before kick off.