As the weekend comes near, we are gearing up for FC Dallas’ upcoming home match with the Philadelphia Union. We’ve brought in Matt Ralph from The Brotherly Game to help preview what is in store for Saturday night at Toyota Stadium.
BDS: We all know how crowded the Eastern Conference has become over the last year or two. What did the Union do in this offseason to put themselves in the discussion for a playoff spot in 2018? Are there any new faces that FC Dallas fans should be aware of?
TBG: The offseason was filled with plenty of angst from the fanbase because of how little the team was doing to improve and while they did end up bringing David Accam and Borek Dockal in so far that angst is being validated by the performances on the field. As the team continues to remind everyone, they’ve created a lot of chances but when have you ever heard a good team brag about all the chances they’ve created and not scored from? Three goals from five games isn’t going to do a team starting the youngest back line in MLS history any favors, especially when considering the Union spent (for their standards) good money re-signing CJ Sapong (1 goal) and acquiring Accam (0 goals, 0 assists) and Dockal (1 hockey assist). Andre Blake’s re-signing feels like the only good offseason move the Union made so far, beyond of course their annual addition by subtraction moves in November.
BDS: The Union has one goal in their last four games, what has caused the attack to not find the back of the net? How are defenses keeping them from scoring so far?
TBG: The attack has been a lot of smoke without much fire. Sure, CJ has missed a couple sitters and Accam and Picault have had a couple chances from close range they’ve kicked right at the keeper, but things have largely been the Union’s predictable attack down the wings and cross, cross, cross without enough combining through the middle. Dockal looked like he was starting to figure out the timing with his teammates with some bright combination play in the San Jose match (1-1 draw) but followed that up with a game where he looked way too sloppy and indecisive with the ball. The attention defenses have put on stopping Accam has been a factor but for the most part the Union’s inability to be clinical in front of goal has let opposing defenses off way too easy.
BDS: Philadelphia have yet to win a game in Dallas (during the regular season), what will they need to do to find a result on Saturday night?
TBG: Is find some new players and a coach who will try a different formation an option? In all seriousness, the Union need to score early to have a chance. A goal inside the first half hour of the match would do wonders for the confidence of the attack and also take some of the pressure off the young back line, which should have enough of that coming from the FC Dallas attack. Andre Blake is good for anywhere between 1 and 4 spectacular saves in a game so it’s within the realm of possibility that an early goal and Blake being Blake could produce what would qualify as something of a miracle for a team that hasn’t won a game outside of Pennsylvania since (are you ready for this?) May 13, 2017 to grab three points Saturday night.
Lineup: Andre Blake, Matthew Real, Auston Trusty, Mark McKenzie, Keegan Rosenberry, Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin, David Accam, Borek Dockal, Fafa Picault, CJ Sapong
Injuries, Fabinho and Richie Marquez are still recovering from surgery; Elliott is questionable after leaving the Orlando City match last weekend with a knee injury