Let’s just be honest. FC Dallas desperately needs to win this game. Must win. After a draw last week against Houston and recognizing that we will be without Szabolcs Schon, Brian Acosta, and now Ricardo Pepi for the Salt Lake City game next week as they travel with their national teams, Dallas needs to earn points from this road trip to have any real thought of remaining in the playoff hunt. And I’m not saying we deserve to be in the hunt... but the teams just ahead of us are leaving the door open.
Austin enters this match with a record of 5W-4D-11L – good for 19 points and 12th place in the West. They’re three points behind Dallas with a game in hand.
|8/7||FC Dallas||2-0||Austin FC|
|8/14||Real Salt Lake||1-0||Austin FC|
Two wins and three losses in the last five. Most recently Austin disposed of Portland after jumping out to a 2-0 lead inside the first quarter-hour and adding a third before the half-hour mark. Yes, Portland was bad. Really bad defensively - and giving up the early PK put them behind the proverbial eight-ball. But they are a team (somehow) above the playoff line. And Austin created that pressure to get their goals. And their recent signing Driussi picked up the third goal of the match, scoring his first MLS goal in his fourth appearance. They looked better. The question is whether that’s going to be a trend... or a fluke.
Fellow recent Austin signing Moussa Djitte – a 21-year-old Senegalese striker – was on the bench for the Portland match but has yet to make his MLS debut. He’s now been in Austin for a few weeks, and he may be ready to contribute. The most consistent criticism of Austin has been their lack of finishing, so eyes are on Djitte to see if he can be a difference-maker.
Keys to the Match:
1) When last we met, Austin sent cross after cross into the box and Dallas cleared them away with relative ease. If Tafari and Hedges can continue that trend, that’s a good start for us. Worth noting: Driussi’s strike was on a late-arriving run on a cross from the touchline. Fagundez also scored on a cross that he headed in – his fourth goal of the year.
2) Paxton Pomykal is out again, so we need Jader Obrian to offer something on the right – even if he can just be an outlet for a long ball to relieve pressure if Austin decides to press. Even if he’s just a convincing decoy run so that Schon, Ferreira, and Pepi have space.
3) I think it comes down to Austin’s new players. If Driussi and Djitte have had a chance to acclimate and are ready to make a difference, Austin will be tough down the stretch. If not, then hopefully Dallas gets the points we need.
Expected Starting Eleven: 4-2-3-1
Fagundez – Driussi – Gallagher
Pereira – Ring
Kolmanic – Besler – Cascante – Lima
OUT: Ulises Segura (left knee), Ben Sweat (ACL), Aaron Schoenfeld (left knee), Danny Hoesen (left hip)