By Mohammad Bushnaq
FC Dallas finished off their four home games in five weeks marathon with a 3-1-0 record. Now, FC Dallas travels to the nation's capital to take on a D.C. United team with eight points from six games, good enough for 4th place in the Eastern Conference. Last season, FC Dallas defeated D.C. United at Toyota Stadium 2-1 in their only matchup of the season.
WATCH: FCD vs DC - 2013
May 11, 2013 - FC Dallas 2 D.C. United 1: FC Dallas entered this mid-May matchup riding high, unbeaten in seven matches at home (eight matches overall). FC Dallas opened the scoring when Jackson finished a hard-shot past D.C. keeper Joe Willis in the 11th minute. D.C. found an equalizer before the half as Dwayne De Rosario beat Chris Seitz on a low shot after a quick restart to get his team back on level terms. It was the first goal FC Dallas had allowed in the first half all season. FC Dallas would not be denied the victory in front of the home crowd, though. In what seems to be a trend for FC Dallas teams, the Hoops struck on a set-piece in the 77th minute. Je-Vaughn Watson had a Michel corner go in off his chest for the lead, giving FC Dallas their 8th goal off set pieces two months in to the season. FC Dallas would hold on to extend their unbeaten streaks in front of 14,322 and remain in first place with 24 points in the Supporters Shield Race.
Matt Hedges is having his best season yet in 2014, earning a new contract extension and drawing calls for USMNT inclusion. He had another fantastic game on Saturday against TFC turning into an offensive juggernaut with a goal and an assist in the 2-1 victory.
For his efforts, he's earned a spot in the MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week for Week 7. Hedges completed 42 of 48 passes on Saturday, had four interceptions and five recoveries according to the OPTA Chalkboard. Hedges has started 62 of the last 64 FCD games dating back to mid-2012 with eight goals scored in that time. He already has two goals scored in the first seven games of 2014 and needs just one more to tie his single-season high.
We discuss what FCD needs to do to get back on track against Toronto FC in this week's Toyota Keys to the Match:
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: