The Vancouver Whitecaps will travel to Frisco, Texas, Saturday to take on in-form FC Dallas in a clash of two teams currently sitting in playoff places in the Western Conference.
Dallas was led in last week’s 3-2 win against the LA Galaxy by midfielder Mauro Diaz, who had three assists after weaving passes in between the Galaxy defense. The Argentine showed flashes of his 2016 MVP-level self (before he tore his Achilles in the penultimate match against Seattle that season).
The team has now shifted its focus to Vancouver, a team that has had an interesting start to its season. While the Whitecaps are in playoff position at the moment, they’ve dropped points while up a man against Minnesota and have drawn their last two matches at home.
Vancouver won its first-ever match in Frisco last season with a 4-0 victory over Dallas thanks to a Fredy Montero brace. The loss was the beginning of FCD’s downfall. The team went 2-7-6 in the last 15 games and missed out on the playoffs on Decision Day.
“Vancouver is a team that has good transitions,” Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said. “They are a team who normally find ways to scratch points away and we respect that.
“Vancouver is a good side with a coach who has been there already for quite a few years, so their sequences are very similar to what they have done in the past, and they have brought in some players that can make them stronger.”
But Saturday, Dallas will need to do something it has not yet done this season: play with a centerback not named Reto Ziegler, who was sent off after receiving a second yellow last weekend.
Last season, FCD’s issue seemed to be consistency during the team’s winless run. Walker Zimmerman hit a poor run of form and Atiba Harris replaced him at some points. Now, there’s consistency but Pareja likes the opportunity for more players to get more competitive minutes.
“We continue with the idea of providing minutes to the most players we can,” Pareja said. “It will be ideal for us to have more players that we can use more often because these scenarios are normal to happen in the season — whether it’s a red card or injury or whatever decision-making by the coaches. The boys are understanding of that.”
The anticipated starter for this week’s match is Maynor Figueroa, who has subbed on at centerback for Dallas this season. Figueroa made 10 league starts at the position in 2017, including The Huntsmen’s 5-1 win over the LA Galaxy in the final match.
Dallas’ captain and other centerback, Matt Hedges, says that familiarity will be important in the match.
“It helps to have a guy with a lot of experience to come into the lineup and know what’s going on,” Hedges said. “He’s played with us a lot, a lot of us have experience with him, so it should be a smooth transition for us.”
Where: Toyota Stadium
Broadcast: TXA 21; Radio- FCDallas.com/Radio (English), 1270AM (Spanish)
Some Trends: The Whitecaps are tied second in MLS for most goals allowed away from home with 15…Vancouver leads the league in red cards with four on the season…Jimmy Maurer and Matt Hedges are the only two Dallas players who have played every minute this season (810)… In its last three away matches, Vancouver has been outscored 8-1…