Chivas USA seek to pick up their second win in four days when they face FC Dallas tonight in Frisco (6 pm PDT, Galavision). The Goats are coming off a midweek win over the Montreal Impact, while FCD are coming off a rivalry loss last weekend against the Houston Dynamo. Both teams will be hungry and have considerable motivation to get a result in Frisco, although Chivas may also have to consider Tuesday's U.S. Open Cup match. At any rate, there are several good storylines in this game.
If you missed it, take a look at the Three Questions Exchange from yesterday with Daniel Robertson from Big D Soccer.
Time for the preview:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 18 points (5-7-3), 6th place in Western Conference, 12th place overall; Goal Difference: -7 (11/18); Last five matches: W-T-T-L-W
FC Dallas: 13 points (3-9-4), 9th place in Western Conference, 17th place overall; Goal Difference: -10 (16/26); Last five matches: L-T-L-L-LKey match up: Schellas Hyndman vs. Robin Fraser
Look, the match will be played on the field, not the sidelines. But the coaches in this match may have a larger role in the outcome of this match than normal. First, Fraser has some real decisions to make regarding his lineup. Winning this match would be a great result, but he does need to consider the USOC match Tuesday against the Charlotte Eagles. Chivas are in the quarterfinals, and have a really great chance to get to the semifinal round, and as a result that match is the priority. Ideally, the team would want two wins, but if given the choice between a win in one of the games, it would unquestionably be Tuesday's. As a result, Fraser may play a reserve-heavy lineup against Dallas. I think he may play a few regulars, but the bulk of the lineup will probably be guys who don't see regular minutes. In the end, he may try and strike a balance, in an effort to get results in both matches.
Meanwhile, Hyndman has been juggling his lineup all season because of injuries and suspensions to his players, and the team has been struggling. They haven't won a match in their last 10, and there is a sense of desperation around the team. Hyndman will likely welcome Brek Shea back into the lineup, but Shea has not been playing his best in 2012. Blas Perez is expected to miss the match with an injury, so it is unclear who will be starting at forward. Attacking midfielders David Ferreira and Ricardo Villar are still out, as are regular starting backs Ugo Ihemelu and George John. Jair Benitez is suspended after picking up a red card last week. This leaves a pretty spare group to select from, but after the positive performance from Jackson Gonsalves, who you may recall scored the winner against Chivas last season at the Home Depot Center, Chivas will still need to be vigilant against a team eager to turn their season around.
As a result, both coaches will have tough decisions to make in their lineups, formations, and substitutions. It is supposed to be hot at the stadium, so players' fitness will be tested as well. A trump card, if it exists, for either side could prove decisive in this game.
Why Chivas will win this match: Chivas have form on their side, their confidence is at a high for the season, and Dallas do not. The Goats probably don't have airtight depth, but this could be an opportunity for some players to distinguish themselves and make a case to get more time with the first team. We'll have to see if they can step up and perform. Furthermore, although Chivas have some injury troubles of their own, they have a much healthier roster. Nick LaBrocca has been removed from the Friday injury report, and while he might not start, his recovery could be a big boost. They seem motivated at this point, and pulling off two league wins in a week would give them great momentum to take into the Open Cup match, and I absolutely do not anticipate this team will basically give up on this game. They're playing well, Dallas is not, and they will want to see if they can move up the standings with three points.
Why Dallas will win this match: Since Chivas have another match on their mind, and since California teams tend to wilt in extreme heat, a Dallas win is proving to be a popular pick around the league. I don't think Dallas is so abject that they will go without a win for much longer, and they could very well get three points here. In particular, Brek Shea's recent suspension might have been a blessing in disguise. The young star has been battling a foot injury for some time, and the suspension plus a snubbing by U.S. Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the recent national team matches means he got a chance to rest up. I think he will want to make a positive impression and help turn his club's fortunes around, and if he's got the pep back in his step, it could really trouble Chivas. And while Dallas has been playing a makeshift lineup for some time, these players currently starting are getting more experience as a unit. Much like Chivas, they might just need time in order to flip the switch and start clicking. Dallas are fresh, as they didn't have a midweek match, and they don't have the preoccupation of an upcoming USOC game like Chivas. This could be their week.
Why this match will end in a draw: On paper, this seems like the most likely outcome. Neither team is able to play a purely first-choice lineup, and the reality is that there will probably be a lot of inexperienced players on the field. The expected extreme heat will probably slow the teams down and lead to a sluggish pace. Although both teams would prefer a win, a draw would probably suffice in this situation. So I'd bet on a low-scoring draw (law of Alicia's picks means that won't be happening, of course...).
Chivas: Ryan Smith (neck/head), John Valencia (hamstring), Jose Correa (hamstring - listed as questionable), Miller Bolanos (hamstring - listed as questionable), Juan Pablo Angel (calf - listed as probable)
Dallas: Jair Benitez (suspended), David Ferreira (foot), Bobby Warshaw (foot), Ugo Ihemelu (concussion), Ricardo Villar (foot), George John (concussion), Blas Perez (foot/ankle), Brek Shea (foot - listed as probable)