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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting C.F. Pachuca

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Pachuca hosts FC Dallas in the 2nd Leg of the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals.

MLS: Pachuca at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas heads into the second leg matchup against Pachuca needing a victory or a draw to advance to their first ever Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Final.

FC Dallas hasn’t had a competitive match since March 18, when they defeated the visiting New England Revolution 2-1. To counter this inactivity, FC Dallas played a 60 minute friendly match against the Puebla reserves Friday night. FC Dallas got 21 of the 24 players who traveled with the team to participate in the friendly, which they won 2-0 on goals by Maxi Urruti and Walker Hume.

Slumping Tuzos

Pachuca is coming off a disappointing 0-0 home draw against 16th place Liga MX side Puebla. Pachuca rolled out a mostly full strength line-up, resting only striker Fernando Jara, who entered the game in the 60th minute. The only other starter to get some form of rest was “Burrito” Hernandez who usually plays to a full 90, but was subbed out in the 77th minute, and will be tasked with shutting down Kellyn Acosta on Tuesday.

In their last three games, including SCCL, Los Tuzos have scored only one goal (against FCD) and allowed five goals, losing two games and drawing their last game. The only bright spot for Los Tuzos, was gaining a clean sheet, after having allowed seven goals in their previous three matchups.

Potential Line-up (4-4-2)

Unlike the first leg, Pachuca will be at full strength, with LB Manny Garcia and star player “Chucky” Lozano both available, after having missed the trip to Frisco.

GK: Oscar Perez; LB: Emmanuel Garcia; CB: Omar Gonzalez, Oscar Murillo; RB: Raul Lopez; CM: Erick Gutierrez, Jorge Hernandez; LM: “Chucky” Lozano; RM: Victor Guzman; ST: Jonathan Urretaviscaya, Franco Jara

Key Matchup

Franco Jara & “Chucky” Lozano vs. The FCD Backline

FC Dallas only needs a draw in Pachuca to advance to their first ever SCCL Final, so maintaining a clean sheet against a struggling Pachuca offense, is of the utmost importance.

Franco Jara is the only player to truly be rested by Pachuca in their Saturday night game against Puebla. That’s because Los Tuzos, hope to see more of this:

Franco Jara gave FCD fits for most of the their first match, and will now have “Chucky” Lozano to help him try and break down the FCD backline.

Three Keys to the Match

Climate Control

Pachuca is situated 7,979 ft above sea level, which is a huge home advantage against visiting teams. By comparison, Denver is only 5,280 ft. How FC Dallas handles the thin air at that altitude, will have a significant impact on the game itself.

FC Dallas for their part, have accepted the challenge of dealing with the elevation, having arrived in Puebla City, Mexico (elevation of 7,005 ft) where they have been training since Wednesday, before traveling Tuesday to Pachuca which is a little over two hours away by bus.

Child’s Play

“HI, I’M CHUCKY! WANNA PLAY?” Chucky

FC Dallas will get their first glimpse of Pachuca star player Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. For their part, Los Tuzos hope that “Chucky” can terrorize the visiting Hoops, and victimize them all match long. Unless FC Dallas wants to find itself in a real life horror movie, they must find a way to contain “Chucky”. Pachuca will likely move Lozano all over the field, in an attempt to make FC Dallas the victims of a very real horror show.

Set Piece Defending

As it has been for every match FCD has played in 2017, their defending of set pieces will be a huge key. Pachuca will likely press high and look to set up as many scoring opportunities as it can. With both teams known for their lightning quick counter attacking capabilities, there are many set pieces that will come from the defenses looking to diffuse those counter attacks. Expect both team’s set defending to be put to the test.