One game down this week, one more to go. Chivas USA are coming off a midweek win against the Montreal Impact, and will be looking to get a winning streak going Saturday when they travel to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas. Although Dallas have some of the league's top players and have been among the best teams the last couple seasons, they have had a bad start to the 2012 season and will absolutely want to get a result against Chivas. In order to get a sense of the situation for FCD, I spoke with Daniel Robertson, of SB Nation FC Dallas blog Big D Soccer. Big thanks to Daniel in answering my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Big D Soccer:
1. FC Dallas have struggled mightily this year. What accounts for the struggles, and do you think they still can make a run this season and accomplish something, or is it basically a write-off at this point?
If it’s a bad thing that can happen to a team, you name it and FCD has experienced it this year. 5 red cards (almost double every other team in the league), post-game suspensions, bad bounces, and my oh my what injury problems. David Ferreira hasn’t played (though he is set to return in the next game), Brek Shea has missed the past month, Ricardo Villar has missed the last two months, neither of the starting center backs (Ugo Ihemelu and George John) have played in a month.It’s just been an absolutely bizarre season so far, but I don’t think anyone is writing things off. As you look at the standings right now, just 6 points separate the bottom 5 teams fighting for that 5th playoff spot and there’s still 18 games left in the season so it’s certainly not over. With the return of Brek Shea this week and David Ferreira next week, it’s almost like FCD is making the two biggest signings of the summer. We all hope that the team becomes that one that no one wants to face in the second half of the year.
2. With all the key players missing due to injury and suspension this season, who do you think has played well despite the poor record?
I’ll leave the Blas Perez comments for the next question ;)…One big surprise has been rookie center back Matt Hedges. He was drafted in the first round by FCD out of UNC having won the national championship last season and he’s really developed ahead of where many thought he would be right now. His game mirrors George John’s very closely and right now he’s farther along in his rookie season than George was so the sky is really the limit for him.
Another player to watch is the Brazilian right midfielder Jackson. As with many South Americans in MLS, he’s got almost as much talent as anyone on the roster, but his consistency is the biggest question. He was the man of the match in the 2-1 loss to Houston last week and will really be one Chivas USA needs to shut down on Saturday if they want to get some points.
3. FCD's big signing in the offseason was Panamanian forward Blas Perez. How has he performed so far this season? Does he have what it takes to be an elite forward in MLS for the next several years?
You could make a case that Blas is a darkhorse for MLS Newcomer of the Year. The Panamanian leads FCD with five goals and three assists and has really shouldered the load for much of the offense with the other star players out. Unfortunately for Dallas, Blas is unlikely to play tomorrow as he nurses an ankle injury picked up on international duty with Panama, but it’s not a serious injury that should keep him out for long.
He’s a big, strong forward that gives center backs fits and while he’s not really a threat to score from outside of the box, he’s a guy that will finish half-chances inside the box kind of like Ruud Van Nistelrooy. An expensive contract may be a hindrance, but I’d be shocked if FCD lets him go at the end of the season. At 31 years old, he’s still got something left in the tank and really looks like he’s found a home in Dallas.
4. (Bonus) What is your prediction for this match?
Surely, surely Dallas finds a way to end their 10-game franchise record winless streak on Saturday. Chivas USA is obviously very difficult to beat on the road, but Dallas is a team that has played just one game in the last four weeks and has another week and a half off after this game, contrasted to Chivas’ packed schedule. The return of Brek Shea and good form of Jackson should be enough to get a couple goals and you wonder if Chivas will be able to cope with what should be a near-100 degree day in Frisco. I’m going to say 2-0 FC Dallas for this one as they finally break the streak.
Chivas USA can win this game by denying service on the wings to Shea and Jackson while sitting deeper to counteract the blistering speed of Fabian Castillo. Dallas is a team that doesn’t give up a whole lot in the air but struggles a bit with low service so I can definitely see Agudelo getting onto the end of a loose ball in the box for a Chivas goal.
Check out my answers to Daniel's questions here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!