Chivas USA are set to face FC Dallas for the second of three meetings Saturday evening in Frisco, Texas (5:30 pm PT, KDOC/MLS Live). The Goats are in better form than Dallas at the moment, as they are coming off a win and FCD have lost four straight. Despite that, Dallas soundly beat CUSA in March, 3-1, so the hosts know they are capable of beating this side. It's also the second match between former co-workers Wilmer Cabrera and Oscar Pareja. Pareja won round one, and after Cabrera notched a win last week over their former employers, he may have more confidence to take on Pareja this time around.
If you missed it, take a look at the Three Questions feature from Thursday.
Let's preview the match!
Tale of the tape:
Chivas USA: 9 points (2-5-3), 8th place in Western Conference, 16th place overall; Goal Difference: -7 (12/19); Last five matches: W-L-L-L-D
FC Dallas: 16 points (5-5-1), 3rd place in Western Conference, 5th place overall; Goal Difference: 1 (20/19); Last five matches: L-L-L-L-W
The survivors: Chivas should have Mauro Rosales back in the starting lineup, and they don't appear to have any new injury worries coming into this game. They are, however, missing Marvin Chavez, who came on like a bullet in his Chivas USA debut last week, but who is now gone with Honduras for the duration of their World Cup experience. Since he performed so well in the win over Colorado, there's no doubt that losing him will be a disappointment. But that's how having international-caliber players works - they are playing for their national teams, but when big tournaments come, they go away when the club season is in session.
For Dallas, however, the losses are unquestionably bigger. Though they haven't had any big losses this week, they are without playmaker Mauro Diaz, who carved up the Goats in the first meeting this season, and midfield destroyer Hendry Thomas is also out with an injury. Without those two, FCD misses their engine in the middle of the field, and it's no question that the options behind them aren't up to their level, even if they are still decent. I will say that Michel, who is their leading scorer, played very well last week in a losing effort against San Jose, and his ability to score and set up goals on set pieces means he's always a threat. If he continues to take the mantle of playing a strong two-way game, he could be the key player in this game, and it will be up to Chivas to keep him, and the rest of the Dallas team, at bay.
Why Chivas will win this match: It's not coincidental that the losses of Diaz and Thomas have come in the midst of the four-game losing streak for FCD, and Dallas' form is currently worst in the league. Add to that the bump the Goats got with their win last week, and having a better understanding of how Dallas plays under Oscar Pareja, and they have a solid shot of grabbing a road win for a second week running. And though it isn't guaranteed that Martin Rivero will start for Chivas this week with Rosales returning, it certainly seems possible to play both in this game, as Rivero can play centrally and Rosales on the right, something that should help Chivas build up more chances. Dallas continues to have many attacking weapons, from Fabian Castillo to Blas Perez and more, and the defense will need another good performance to stop the hosts and grab another win. It's going to be tough, but it's certainly possible.
Why Dallas will win this match: Dallas are firm favorites to get the win here, notwithstanding the respective teams' form. Remember, Chivas' season looked like it was going south in a hurry until the win over Colorado, and that one game could either be the start of a better run, or it could be a blip. Plus, with Dallas beating Chivas so handily in March, they clearly know how to grab three points on this team. With the exception of the Rapids win, Chivas had started building a reputation as a perfect "slump buster" opponent in recent weeks, and on paper, that looks like a very strong possibility. If Perez, who has not been on form lately, gets a goal, it could prove bad for not only CUSA, but also the rest of MLS in games to come.
Why this game will end in a draw: I'm having a hard time really getting a feel for this game. Can Chivas play as well or better than last week? Can Dallas snap out of their funk? Will these teams muddle their way to a draw? They've done that an awful lot in recent years, and the physicality of the last game between these sides means more red cards, on either side, could be in order. A draw is a safe bet, and while three points are of course better for Chivas, it wouldn't be a terrible result.