With FCD’s winless streak no longer tormenting fans, players, and Schellas Hyndman alike, the team has its sights set on knocking rampant San Jose down a peg tonight in Frisco. A win for the visitors puts San Jose, a team with one of the worst starts to the 2013 season, level with Dallas, the fastest team out of the gate in 2013.
The Western Conference has become a cluttered mess since Dallas left the month of May, enduring a painful winless summer that has brought the team from first to sixth. San Jose has remained towards the cellar of the West for most of 2013, but has found extraordinary form of late, pulling in four wins in five games, more than doubling their win total for the entire first of half of the regular season.
FCD’s demise has been well documented, and the last time these two faced each other saw sides with different fortunes and form. Fabian Castillo’s solo effort separated the two sides in a 1-0 victory for Dallas that kept FCD on pace with their early season form. Still, it was an entirely cagey affair that was more of a stalemate than anything else.
This match will be different. For one, FCD’s personnel has changed slightly with the inclusion of signings Mauro Diaz and Erick. Michel and David Ferreira didn’t even start in the midweek match against Chivas USA; Ferreira did see some late match time, enough to help Dallas pull out of SoCal with a victory. San Jose have been somewhat active as well, pulling in USMNT center-half Clarence Goodson and midfielder Jaime Alas on loan in the summer transfer window.
Judging the match solely on form, San Jose must be the favorite. They have scalped Seattle, Kansas City, and Portland in the past five matches. Dallas has scalped, well, Chivas USA. But a home crowd and newfound buoyancy from Wednesday’s win will play an indomitable factor going into tonight. Both sides do face a situation where they must win a lion’s share of their remaining matches or face the playoff drop.
Focal Points For Tonight
But San Jose’s tactics have been less effective this season due to key personnel being absent and injured, and the result was the miserable first half of their 2013 campaign. The Northern Californians are superb on the flanks with great pace and service coming from Marvin Chavez and Steven Beitashour. Their usual targets – and there could be shorter ones in MLS – usually border on Alan Gordon, Wondo, and Steven Lenhart (when he’s not serving a suspension).
Two key battles will play themselves out tonight: the scrum between John, Hedges, and the San Jose front line, and two separate races on the flanks. FCD was superb at flank play in the first 2013 meeting, Castillo and Jackson finding more than their fair share of space on the touchline. But the battle in the back may be more critical, as Dallas has looked suspect in the air (Ryan Johnson’s goal in Portland last week), and in their marking. For that example look no further than any match against Seattle this season, and de la Fuente’s goal midweek against FCD.
Simply put: these were not issues the first half of 2013 for FCD. Certainly, a resurgent team like San Jose will be looking to exploit these weaknesses in full. Their season depends on the next two months. The same could be said in Frisco.
With Wondolowski suddenly finding his 2012 form in the form of a brace last week, and the team’s overall form, this will not be a simple repetition of the past meeting in Frisco. The x-factor really is the truth that San Jose also have CCL commitments midweek and may have to be sparing with time for their mainstays in the attack.
Furthermore, and paradoxically more, San Jose will feel the need to stretch time for their starting midfield and attack simply because they tend to find the net late into the second half. Dallas drops leads, and has done so consistently over two seasons. You can see where this is going. Hopefully it won’t send the match into a stalemate for 75 minutes, but that wouldn’t be foreign to either of the two.
Other main issues that surround the match tonight will be the use of Ferreira, Michel, Cooper, Erick, and Mauro Diaz. There is little reason to doubt the new signings will be in the starting XI, but what of the rest? If these recent acquisitions carry Dallas into the playoffs they will certainly be seen to have saved the season. Either way, the winless streak is over, and Dallas can actually look to be spoilers for once in a long time tonight.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images)