San Jose comes into this game in a really bad way. Although their last six games have been better, having three draws and three losses, “better” is a relative term. The Quakes are last in the Western Conference having won only two games on the season and have just 13 points total. Their last game was a draw against Real Salt Lake, but their last win was a ways back on May 12 against Minnesota United.
Dallas picked up three points on the road in Kansas City last week and now have a six-point lead over second place LAFC in the West. With 42 points, they sit 3rd overall in the Supporter’s Shield standings, sandwiched one point a piece between the New York clubs and five points behind Atlanta.
After sneaking into the playoffs last season, San Jose continued a needed roster overhaul. To strengthen an offense that was bottom five in the league in 2017, San Jose brought in Swedish international attacker Magnus Eriksson and Dutch forward Danny Hoesen. Getting Eriksson seemed like a coup for the team after reports that there was interest from multiple teams in MLS. San Jose then picked up center back Yeferson Quintana on loan from Uruguay to shore up the defense. All in all, these transactions seemed reasonable enough to help propel San Jose forward. But everything has backfired spectacularly. San Jose is still bottom five in the league in goals scored and have conceded 40 goals, also bottom five in the league.
There is talent to be seen for the Quakes. Danny Hoesen has had a solid season with 10 goals and four assists thus far. Chris Wondolowski is still doing Wondo things and has six goals and three assists. To go along with that, last summer’s big signing Vako has continued to look sharp in the attack and has contributed four goals and four assists.
Even still, the attack is weak and the defense weaker. The attack runs through the middle, with Magnus Eriksson cutting inside from the right wing to partner with Vako, both just underneath Hoesen or Wondo. I suppose I should say the attack transitions through the middle as San Jose still attempt plenty of crosses once they enter the attacking third. On the defensive end, San Jose opened the summer transfer window with another center back signing, Guram Kashia, which lets you know how well things are going back there. Through Kashia’s first two games, they have allowed only one goal, so who knows.
For Dallas, this game will be all about building momentum. A thrilling beat down of SKC, courtesy of Michael Barrios, has lifted spirits across the fan base. New left back Marquinhos Pedroso looked solid in his debut and Dallas will look to strengthen the chemistry of the back four against a weak attack. With Santiago Mosquera still out, expect Roland Lamah to fill in on the left side of the attack. Hopefully we will get a look at how Coach Pareja plans to use our other two new signings, Pablo Aranguiz and Dominique Badji in this game. Depending on who is available, we could see Dallas lineup in a similar 4-4-1-1 formation like last game or move back to the 4-2-3-1 if Aranguiz gets in the game.
Key Matchup: Maxi Urruti vs San Jose CBs
In my eyes, Dallas should control this game from first whistle to last. In such a circumstance, Maxi will have ample opportunity to get back on the score sheet. In fact, he must get on the score sheet. After a quick start to the season Maxi has gone scoreless in the last 10 games, a two month stretch. This is normal for Urruti, but also explains why Dallas felt the need to go get another forward this summer.
1. Centennial Club - As most of you know, Coach Pareja is sitting on 99 career wins. When he gets number 100, he will have been the third fastest manager to that number in MLS history, behind the legendary (infamous?) duo of Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley. Let’s pick up the win at home to give Coach a proper party.
2. New Faces – Although I feel this could be a trap game, I also think we can experiment a little with our starters. It would be great to see some of the young kids get in the game, but I would really like to see our new signings play to see what they can offer as we head toward the stretch run of the season.
3. Baller Barrios – What a game for the much-chastised winger. I am often critical of Barrios but his deployment up top against SKC was formidable and offers a new facet for the Dallas attack. I don’t expect his finishing to always be so clinical, but if this new-found facet of his game can stick just a bit, he can become one of the most dangerous players in the league (minimal exaggeration).
FC Dallas and San Jose maybe on opposite ends of the league standings thus far, but this is MLS, crazy things can and will happen. Even with all the positivity surrounding the club after the win in Kansas City, there is still an anxiousness to see Dallas validate just how good they are. This is their chance. Good teams take care of business at home. Good teams take care of business against the leagues also-rans. Good teams build upon good wins to establish themselves. I believe FC Dallas is a better than good team and I think this week they validate the hype. This week can show that the summer swoon from last year was a fluke. Dallas wins 2-0.