MLS Regular Season
It's the second home game of the season on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas is taking on a suddenly potent Chivas USA squad. Scott Brown and I break down the goats in our Toyota Keys to the Match:
By Mohammad Bushnaq
FC Dallas and Chivas USA meet for the first time this year on Saturday. Last year, the two teams battled three times and FC Dallas ended the season with a 1-1-1 record vs. the Goats.
Game 1 - 3/10: The first meeting between the two red-and-white franchises ended with Chivas standing their ground at home in a strong stretch of early season form, defeating FC Dallas 3-1. David Ferreira opened the scoring for FC Dallas in the 57th minute, but the Hoops surrendered three goals late from Agudelo, Minda, and Casillas. It was the first road game of the season and FC Dallas left Southern Califronia empty-handed.
Game 2 - 7/4: Independence Day was the next meeting between the two teams. For all the fireworks that were available at the end of the match, the on-field display fizzled out. Raul Fernandez was the hero for the Hoops making seven saves in a game that ended scoreless in front of a sell-out crowd at Toyota Stadium.
Game 3 - 8/21: The final meeting of the season came on a must-win scenario during the playoff push and FC Dallas delivered with a 3-1 victory at the StubHub Center. It took a comeback effort with substitutes David Ferreira and Ramon Nunez finding late goals to secure the three points on the road and snap the longest winless streak in club history.
Was a hard-fought point against the defending champions on the road enough to get FC Dallas moving up in the national power rankings? Opinions vary pretty wildly.
MLSSoccer.com disagrees, dropping FC Dallas to 13th (12th last week) in their latest power rankings despite the late heroics by the Hoops on Saturday saying: "Huge, huge point at KC in a game that was more knife fight than soccer match. Dallas had just one shot on goal on the night, but Matt Hedges made it count with that towering header."
Pro Soccer Talk moved FCD up two spots to 13th saying: Sporting Kansas City dominated play, but FC Dallas only conceded from a late corner. Play that match again (or, play it with Graham Zusi), and Dallas isn’t going to be so fortunate, but we did learn something about Óscar Pareja’s team in the process. Even without George John, the capable of staying organized in their defensive third, even if they had trouble doing so at times against Montréal. (1-0-1)
FCD jumped two spots in the Soccer By Ives power rankings up to 10th place with Ives recognizing the greatness of Matt Hedges: FC Dallas could have counted themselves lucky to face the Montreal Impact without Andres Romero, Nelson Rivas, and Marco Di Vaio in week one, but they put together a solid performance last Saturday at Sporting Kansas City. Matt Hedges, the goal scorer, continues to grow and should be counted on all year to be a big presence in the box at both ends of the field.
ESPNFC.com elevated FC Dallas to 6th place (10th last week) citing the never-say-die attitude claiming, "It was easy to dismiss last week's win over struggling Montreal but fighting back to tie Kansas City is an effort that will draw a bit more notice, especially given the defensive pieces FCD is missing. It certainly amounts to an encouraging start."
Sports Illustrated: Planet Futbol slightly lifted the FCD lads to 9th place (10th last week) citing their solid beginning to the season as the reason for the movement, "Dallas has two good results to kick off the season, taking a point off the defending champion after winning at home the first week. Kansas City had an eye on the Champions League, but it still put out a strong lineup and had more chances to score."
FC Dallas' next opponent has had a solid start to the 2014 season after a disappointing 2013. Chivas USA opened their campaign with a 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire in week one and managed a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC in week two despite losing midfielder Agustin Pelletieri to a red card in the 13th minute.
It's a small sample size, but Chivas USA's encouraging peformances thus far have prompted MLSsoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe to break down whether or not the Goats are the real deal?
What do you think of Wiebe's analysis?
It's time to start looking ahead to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night and we talked to Moises Hernandez, Chris Seitz & Oscar Pareja about the upcoming game this weekend:
It is time to take a look around the sports world and see what the national writers are saying about your Hoops after their season-opening victory vs. Montreal Impact on March 8th.
MLSSoccer.com rose FC Dallas three spots higher in their rankings to #12 saying "After one week, Mauro Díaz looks like he's legit. And we love the fact that they'll have Blas Pérez for the entire season. But that defense..."
ESPNFC.com also moved FCD three spots up to #10 after their win with a very similar comment, "Mauro Diaz looked every bit the worthy heir to David Ferreira, winning a penalty and scoring on a gorgeous free kick in a 3-2 win over Montreal. The defense still needs work, but Oscar Pareja at least celebrated his return to Dallas with a win."
NBC: Pro Soccer Talk didn't release rankings last week, but they opening FC Dallas at #15 overall, the lowest of any of the major outlets(booo). "Three points on opening night provided a great start to the Óscar Pareja era, but the absence of Marco Di Vaio, a questionable penalty, and the overall quality of their opponent leaves questions unanswered."
Sports Illustrated: Planet Futbol has FC Dallas at #10 overall saying that "Óscar Pareja’s return to Texas was victorious, albeit by a one-goal margin against a weak Montreal Impact. Blas Pérez had a solid showing, as did Mauro Díaz in central midfield. Díaz’s dive to earn a penalty was all that separated the teams in the end, but winning in MLS is often about a moment of fortune."
Soccer By Ives had some nice words to say about FCD, though they didn't rise from their preseason ranking of #12. "Mauro Diaz might just be the next big thing in MLS. And new coach Oscar Pareja had FC Dallas looking like a side that has been given a new lease on life after Saturday’s 3-2 win over Montreal."