FC Dallas is preparing for their first home game of the 2017 MLS Regular Season against the New England Revolution. Last season, FC Dallas held an impressive home record in Fortress Frisco, going 12-1-4 (wins, losses, ties). The last time FC Dallas played NE was in the emotional US Open Cup Final comeback win, and the Revolution will be looking for revenge. FC Dallas is on a five game winning streak against the Revolution in MLS seasonal play. FC Dallas will be looking to continue their run of positive results in 2017 after a congested week of MLS and CCL play, while the Revolution hasn't played a game in two weeks because of a weather postponement. Here is what to watch for during Saturday's game:
Can FCD maintain a high press?
Kei Kamara was an impulse buy for the New England Revolution. It's hard to blame them for acting quickly to get an elite attacking forward with the presence and experience of Kamara, but he doesn't complement Lee Nguyen's style tactically, and there was a bit of a disconnect up top for NE last year. Nguyen likes to play the quick, one-touch passes on the ground in the final third of the field. Kamara would rather have balls heaped into the box for him to pick up the pieces with either his aerial presence or finishing ability. While with the Columbus Crew, Kei Kamara played in 41 games and had 27 goals and eight assists. While in New England, his production has fallen to seven goals and two assists in 22 games (.66 goals per game with CLB to .32 with NE).
If FC Dallas can pull off a high press, that could shut off the New England offense, who will have a hard time connecting with each other. It will also affect their new offensive experiments, such as pulling Juan Agudelo back behind both Nguyen and Kamara and putting him into more of a playmaking role. There may be fatigue from the Pachuca and Kansas games this week, but Oscar Pareja played a mostly reserve lineup in Kansas early in the week and rested key players. We will see how much FC Dallas can press after playing several games early in the week, and which players, if any, Pareja will rotate into the lineup.
Getting Colmán hot
When FC Dallas signed Cristian Colmán, there was general agreement that he would need an adjustment period to acclimate to the league and build chemistry with his teammates. After scoring in an electrifying debut, many fans believed that no such period would be needed. Although his goal scoring has stopped, Colmán has contributed in other ways on the field. His main contributions have been his smart and well-timed runs which have opened up space for his strike-partner, Maxi Urruti.
We are yet to see how effective Colmán can be on set pieces (and on a side note, Urruti, too, who was able to score for Portland on several set pieces hasn't shown that part of his game with FC Dallas). Colmán has been good at winning air balls, but has never made a real threat to goal using his head.
This could be a great opportunity for Colmán to get on the scoresheet once again for Dallas. Colmán will be up against two new starting center backs for New England: Antonio Delamea and Benjamin Angoua. They also have an inexperienced and new keeper, Cody Cropper, who represented the US on the youth national team levels.
New USMNT duo
Something else to watch in this match will be the performances of Kellyn Acosta and Walker Zimmerman and how they play in their last game before reporting for USMNT duty. The US National Team will compete in World Cup Qualifiers against Honduras on March 24 and against Panama on March 28.