After a week on the road, we're back at Toyota Stadium tonight for one of the matches of the season as first-place FC Dallas hosts Seattle Sounders FC fresh off their 4-4 draw in Portland that saw Texas-native Clint Dempsey score a hat trick. Tonight has the potential to be a special one in Frisco and here's the 10 things you need to know before heading to tonight's match:
1. It's Frisco ISD night at the stadium and Dr. Jeremy Lyon, Frisco ISD Superintendent, will be scarfing the Lamar Hunt Statue. Frisco ISD and FC Dallas have as closely knit of a partnership as any MLS team and they have been instrumental in helping our aspiring Academy players train on a daily basis while still having a normal high school workload.
2. As always, you'll want to arrive early tonight as we're expecting another huge crowd tonight, likely the biggest of the season yet.
3. Tonight's game represents a matchup of the two highest scoring teams in Major League Soccer so far this season with FCD & Seattle combining for 22 goals in ten games. Despite the Sounders offensive prowess, Matt Hedges and Zach Loyd know a strong defensive performance will be key to victory.
4. While parking is always free for everyone at Toyota Stadium, our Toyota drivers out there can enjoy FREE upgraded parking in the Camry Gold Lot tonight. The Camry Gold Lot is directly NW of the stadium adjacent to the Dr. Pink field.
5. Stop by the brand new El Jimador Cantina in the northwest terrace of Toyota Stadium tonight at halftime and after the game to hear live music from Chet Stevens.
6. Tonight's weather forecast is looking very good with mostly cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid-70s and relatively gusty winds.
7. Tonight's game is set for a 7:30PM kickoff and will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Sports HD 148, 100.7FM(English) and 1270AM(Spanish)
8. This is only the start of a nine-day stretch of live soccer in north Texas with the Dr Pepper Dallas Cup kicking off on Sunday, Generation adidas Cup kicking off Monday and a reserve match against OKC Energy set for Tuesday night at Toyota Stadium.
9. FC Dallas has a league-leading five players who have scored at least two goals this season. Will it be Mauro Diaz, Je-Vaughn Watson or Fabian Castillo playing hero tonight? Or could someone else step up to score a game-winner?
10. Ticket options are very limited, especially on the east side and endline for tonight's match! If you want to avoid box office lines and possibly being told certain price points are sold out, get your tickets now!
We're nearing Saturday's big game at Toyota Stadium against Seattle Sounders FC and we break down what FCD needs to do to stay undefeated in this week's Toyota Keys to the Match:
By Mohammad Bushnaq
FC Dallas retained "El Capitan" with a crushing 4-1 victory over the Orange in Houston. After an action-packed back and forth first half, FC Dallas pounced on an ejection to Dynamo CB David Horst in the 60th minute to score three goals in ten minutes and seize the match with force from their rivals. With the Texas Derby win, FC Dallas has sole possession of the top of the table. Do the league writers all agree that this team is the concensus number one team in MLS right now?
MLSSoccer.com writers are way ahead of the curve. They had FC Dallas in 1st place of their rankings after the Chivas USA victory and have not looked back since. The league website editors cite this team's danger on set-pieces as a game-changer that could win matches even if the team is not having a great game.
COMMENT: Even if they're not playing well, they're always so dangerous on set pieces that they can just bury you. It was even through an hour this weekend, then Houston gave 'em an inch. And then it was over.
ESPNFC.com finally joined the party, elevating FC Dallas to the top spot in their rankings (3rd last week) while marveling at Je-Vaughn Watson's performance for the Hoops on Saturday. To Jeff Carlisle, this FC Dallas team is thriving because of Hendry Thomas in the center of the park.
COMMENT: Je-Vaughn Watson stuck it to his old team and then some, scoring twice and forcing an own goal in a 4-1 win over Houston. On the defensive side of things, Hendry Thomas was solid again in midfield, and it's clear his trade to the club was a steal.
Goal.com's Ives Galarcep also has the Hoops atop his latest power rankings. Ives believes FC Dallas will have their biggest test yet when they face the Seattle Sounders this weekend.
COMMENT: Oscar Pareja's side took full advantage of a second-half red card draw by Houston, ripping the Dynamo apart after David Horst's sending off. Je-Vaughn Watson did the most damage, punishing his former club to the tune of two goals. FCD's hold on first place in the West will be tested by the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.
Sports Illustrated's Planet Futbol are the only major media outlet that do not have FC Dallas at the top of their rankings. Planet Futbol says that FC Dallas was struggling before the red card changed the match.
COMMENT: Until David Horst’s red card for the Dynamo, FC Dallas was on the ropes. It opened the scoring against the run of play, benefitting from a Ricardo Salazar call on the penalty, and Chris Seitz made a couple big saves until Horst was sent off. Dallas took advantage, scoring on a set piece and a counterattack to win big, but without that red card, the story may have been different.
By Mohammad Bushnaq
Top of the table FC Dallas will have their hands full when USMNT veteran Clint Dempsey and his Seattle Sounders visit Frisco this weekend for a meeting between the two Western Conference powerhouses. FC Dallas and Seattle played three matches last year. FC Dallas won the final meeting of the season 2-0 at home having lost the first two matches of 2013 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle by a combined score of 7-2.
WATCH: SSFC 4, FCD 2
Game 1 - May 18th, 2013 - Seattle Sounders FC 4 FC Dallas 2: Top of the table FC Dallas took a trip to the Pacific Northwest trying to extend their nine-game unbeaten streak to ten games. Former FC Dallas man Eddie Johnson opened the scoring, taking advantage of rookie London Woodberry and hitting a half volley past Raul Fernandez. Lamar Neagle doubled Seattle's advantage on a breakaway in the 30th minute after dribbling around Raul Fernandez and calmly slotting the ball home.
After the half, Michel led the charge for the Hoops. First, the Brazilian sent a perfect cross in to Kenny Cooper to give FCD their first goal on the evening. The best set-piece taker in the league was not done with that contribution. Seven minutes after the Cooper goal, Michel sent in a corner kick that was untouched by Gspurning and nestled itself in the side netting. The rare "Olimpico" had FC Dallas back in with a shout, but it was short-lived. EJ struck immediately after the restart putting Seattle back on top for good. Blas Perez was ejected in the 72nd minute for a high elbow and Obafemi Martins put any doubts to bed with an 83rd minute finish. FC Dallas' unbeaten run was over, losing 4-2.
WATCH: SSFC 3, FCD 0
Game 2 - August 3rd, 2013 - Seattle Sounders FC 3 FC Dallas 0: Contrary to the first meeting of the season when FC Dallas was riding in on a nine-game unbeaten streak, the return to CenturyLink Field in the summer was one to try to end a winless streak. Having not won in their last eight matches, FC Dallas had their work cut out for them just knowing they had to travel to one of the loudest stadiums in North America. Another wrinkle that gave Seattle the confidence to come out swinging in this match was the formal introduction of USMNT start, Clint Dempsey.
Seattle rode that wave of optimism from the crowd to a strong start. The capacity crowd was treated to a beautiful glancing header by Obafemi Martins in the 9th minute to give the hosts a dream start. EJ scored his first goal since the last time these two teams met in May, finishing a powerful effort past Fernandez. Brad Evans capped the the final score line at three with a penalty kick after a bleached David Ferreira brought Lamar Neagle down in the box. Seattle, despite a strong Mauro Diaz showing in the second half, took the second of two matches at CenturyLink 3-0.
WATCH: FCD 2, SSFC 0
Game 3 - October 19th, 2013 - FC Dallas 2 Seattle Sounders 0: The final home game of the 2013 season (and the Schellas Hyndman Era) was a victory for FC Dallas. While the first half was frantic, it ended scoreless. 20 minutes in to the 2nd half, Matt Hedges headed home a Michel corner kick to send 15,017 fans into a frenzy. Michel, having already gathered an assist in the game, found himself on the end of a fortuitous bounce to double the FCD lead. David Ferreira had his shot deflected and it fell to Michel who calmly slotted the ball home in the 87th minute to ensure FC Dallas was leaving Toyota Stadium that night with three points for one last time in front of their fans in 2013.
It's no secret that the Houston Dynamo dominated the early years of the Texas Derby with a team that won MLS Cup in both 2006 and 2007, but Saturday's emphatic 4-1 FC Dallas win was the exclamation point on tides within the state that have been shifting in recent years. Here are a few interesting stats behind FCD's win on Saturday night:
- Saturday's 4-1 FC Dallas victory was the largest for FCD in the regular season Texas Derby history(Houston defeated FCD by three goals in 2007) while the four goals scored is the most FCD has put past the Dynamo in a match.
- Saturday was the first time FCD has beaten Houston in back-to-back games in MLS play.
- The 4-1 win was FCD's first at BBVA Compass Stadium and marked the first time a Western Conference team has won at the Houston stadium.
- FC Dallas is 5-2-2 against their Texas rivals in MLS/USOC since 2009.
- Je-Vaughn Watson became the fourth player in series history to score twice in one Texas Derby game along with Kenny Cooper, Dwayne De Rosario and Cam Weaver.
- Mauro Diaz became the first FC Dallas player to score two assists in one Texas Derby match. Only Brad Davis has achieved the same feat for Houston.
Hear from Chris Seitz, Zach Loyd & Oscar Pareja on Saturday's Texas Derby in this week's Quick Kicks:
It's time to start getting serious about Saturday's game in Houston. We get things started by breaking down the Toyota Keys to the Match for Saturday's Texas Derby pres. by Novo Nordisk:
FC Dallas chopped down the Timbers at Toyota Stadium last Saturday in a weird match that saw two red cards issued to both teams in the first half. The league-wide editors seem to be jumping on the DTID bandwagon early in the season with FC Dallas and most national pundits have them on the higher end of the rankings. Let's take a look:
MLSSoccer.com kept FC Dallas atop their MLS Power Rankings. Last week, they had the Hoops jumping 12th place to 1st place. This week, no radical changes for FCD as they maintained the top spot in the rankings.
COMMENT: "Mauro Díaz is the Power Rankings Politburo's MVP of March. That goal against Portland felt inevitable – he was the best player on the field throughout."
Our friends at ESPNFC.com are slowly but surely creeping FC Dallas up on their lists, placing FC Dallas at 3rd place in their rankings (last week 5th). They hint at FC Dallas playing so many matches at home so far has helped their record.
COMMENT: "Who cares if FCD's record is a tad inflated by playing three of four at home? Oscar Pareja's side has done the job despite missing half a starting back line. And, yes, Mauro Diaz continues to dazzle. Dallas impresses from practically every vantage point."
SI.com's Planet Futbol has FC Dallas grounded in comparison to the rest of the bunch at 4th place. SI.com cited last year's hot start to the season as a reason for cautious optimism for this 2014's fiery beginning.
COMMENT: Last year’s second half of the season should show Dallas fans why it’s dangerous to be excited about a fast start, but their team is on top of the Western Conference standings after a month. Mauro Díaz again provided a spark, and the 23-year-old looks like a good early candidate for Newcomer of the Year.
By Mohammad Bushnaq
It's Derby Week! FC Dallas takes on their bitter intrastate rivals, the Houston Dynamo, Saturday night for the first (and only) meeting this season between the two clubs. Last season, FC Dallas played well against the Dynamo, notching two wins in both matches and reclaiming "El Capitan" for the DTID faithful.
WATCH: FCD 3, Houston 2
Game 1 - March 17, 2013 - FC Dallas 3 Houston Dynamo 2: FC Dallas came home to Frisco after a rough loss in Southern California to face their mortal enemies, the Orange from Houston. FC Dallas showed up to this match early, finding the net twice in the first half thanks to two set piece finishes by George John and Andrew Jacobson. After the early 2-0 lead, Andrew Driver entered the match and changed the dynamic for the Dynamo. A sloppy clearance by Michel cost FC Dallas the first goal in the 79th minute as Driver drove a shot under the crossbar and in for Houston's first goal of the game. Four minutes later, Raul Fernandez failed to handle a cross in from Cam Weaver and Brad Davis made him pay, bringing the Dynamo back from the dead for a temporary 2-2 result. In the 90th minute, Kenny Cooper was back "with a bang" sending the FC Dallas fans celebrating a St. Patrick's Day win over the Dynamo.
WATCH: FCD 3, Houston 0 USOC
Game 2 - June 12, 2013 - FC Dallas 3 Houston Dynamo 0: The two teams met again three months later in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Round of 16 at Toyota Stadium. After a rather drab first half an hour, FC Dallas took the lead in the 38th minute off of service from the set-piece wizard, Michel. The Brazilian sent a cross in that found Andrew Jacobson in the box. AJ touched the ball to Kenny Cooper and the striker had his second goal against the Dynamo in three months. Just before the clock struck one hour, Michel and Cooper were at it again. Straight from a corner kick, Cooper thundered home a pinpoint Michel cross for his second goal of the game. FC Dallas completed the rout with a sweet lob by Zach Loyd after Jackson caused a fumble by Dynamo keeper Deric. Loyd collected and calmly placed the ball over the keeper and defenders and in the net for the 3-0 lead. With the result, FC Dallas was through to the quarterfinals.
The voting is in and Mauro Diaz has run away with the first Etihad Airlines MLS Player of the Month award.
Having earned over 60% of the vote, "El Magico" is the first FC Dallas player to win POTM since Kevin Hartman in July 2011 and he becomes the sixth player in franchise history to win the award.
Diaz has been truly incredible in the month of March playing 346 of a possible 360 minutes while scoring two spectacular goals and adding an assist(that doesn't count his other assist to Je-Vaughn Watson in the Chivas USA game). Since coming into the league late last year, Diaz has played 14 games with five goals and three assists to his name, averaging a goal or assist every 96 minutes. Those are some truly stunning numbers and even more amazing when you consider he's just 23 years old.
The Argentine is quickly becoming one of the biggest stars in DFW sports and if you don't have season tickets you really need to check out our Mauro Diaz "10 for 10" pack.