With the Reds fresh off yet another bye week, and Dallas looking incredibly average against the offensively-challenged Rapids, many would peg this game as one in which TFC could expect points. We at WTR know better than that.
FC Dallas have not lost 3 in a row since May 4, 7 and 10 of 2014 (they lost on April 26 as well). Oscar Pareja knows how to rally his troops, and TFC is looking like they'll be thin on the backline against one of MLS's most dynamic attacking teams. This will be a big test for Greg Vanney's
Match Talking Points
FC Dallas were pretty lacklustre (read: bad) against Colorado, but they aren't a bad team. Players like Fabian Castillo, Blas Perez, even 99.9% Canadian Tesho Akindele can turn the game on its head with a good play. One could make the case that their two most crucial players will be absent in Mauro Diaz and Matt Hedges. Diaz burst onto the scene last year before getting injured. In an advanced midfield position, he pulls the strings and creates chances almost at will. Hedges, fresh off his USMNT callup, missed last game against the Rapids, but could be back against TFC. Without him, FC Dallas are much less stable at the back. All signs currently point to him being available, but a team can dream.
TFC look set to have their backline more or less together in Dallas. Steven Caldwell and (likely) Mark Bloom won't be making the trip, but Damien Perquis and Eriq Zavaleta are ready to go. I, for one, expect to see both of them start in Frisco. Michael Bradley is coming back from a successful outing with the USMNT, and Altidore's slight injury that kept him from being called up is all but resolved. Expect to see a good contest in this one.
TFC Starting XI
Caldwell's injury and Creavalle's suspension see Hagglund slotted in at Right Back with Zavaleta getting his first TFC start. There is also a possibility of shifting Morrow inside and playing Morgan at Left Back, or playing Morrow at Right back, Hagglund in the middle, and Morgan out left. It will be interesting to see how we line up.
Keys to the Match
TFC have been pretty woeful on set pieces in years past. Dallas are the set piece kings of MLS. Michel has targets to aim at and they connect well. The Reds will have to be at their best to keep Dallas's big men at bay.
Fabian Castillo has been quiet this season, but he still has the power to unlock the game at will. The talent is there and if it is on display on Saturday, it spells trouble for TFC.
Altidore, Giovinco, and Bradley need a spark. The team's start to the season hasn't been ideal but the big men need to start putting up numbers. FC Dallas have leaked 7 goals in the last 2 games. TFC need to add to that.
After last week's correctly predicted Jackson appearance at right back (I'm 3/3 here, if anyone other than me is counting), I'm sticking with the now serialized Bold but Useless Prediction: In this edition, TFC finishes the game with 10 players. Again. (My money's on Jackson finding a way to fight David Ferreira)
The game is Saturday, April 18 at 8:30 pm. Its on TSN5 and MLS LIVE.