FC Dallas vs. Inter Milan, international friendly at Pizza Hut Park
BUY TICKETS: FC Dallas vs. Inter Milan
8 p.m. CT, Fox Soccer Channel
International friendlies tend to be wide-open affairs, as both teams typically shirk some of their defensive duties. This should sit well with Dallas, who have an eight-game unbeaten streak in league play but have not been scoring as freely as they’d like.
Inter Milan, the reigning Serie A champions and UEFA Champions League title-holders, have had mixed results on their American tour so far. They beat Manchester City 3-0 last weekend, but are coming off a 3-2 loss to Greek side Panathinaikos in Toronto on Tuesday night. The Dallas friendly wraps up the tour before they begin their season with the Italian Super Cup on Aug. 21.
FCD coach Schellas Hyndman will field a lineup that greatly resembles his normal first 11. The only changes will be the insertion of midfielder Eric Avila and goalkeeper Dario Sala. Midfielder Dax McCarty, who was held out the previous two league matches, may get a few minutes as he works his way back into fitness.
However, with temperatures expected around 100 degrees and a league match with Philadelphia on Sunday, Hyndman will be cautious with his starters.
“I said to the players, if we’re going to win a game, let’s win on Sunday," he said this week. “That’s where my priorities are and that’s where I want my players’ priorities to be. We can do a lot for FC Dallas internationally if we play Inter Milan well, but what does that mean? At the end of the day, we’re trying to get into the MLS playoffs."
The brightest spot in Tuesday’s loss to Panathinaikos was the performance of young midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who scored a nice goal. The 19-year-old Brazilian is considered a star of the future for the European side.
But most eyes will be on coach Rafael Benítez. Recently hired after the departure of José Mourinho, Benítez is under pressure to repeat the club’s success of last year.
“There is a challenge for every man out here to have the opportunity to train with a team like this that has won everything in the last year,” Benítez said on Wednesday. “So it is a challenge for me to do the same this year or at least to try to reach for trophies.”
A win against Dallas is expected. A loss would bring out the Italian media’s fangs very early in his tenure.
Heroes and Villains
Ugo Ihemelu vs. Samuel Eto’o: The FC Dallas back line hasn’t allowed multiple goals in 13 straight MLS games, and Ihemelu has been the rock in the middle. However, Eto’o is, well, Eto’o. The Cameroonian's world-class pace and power have helped him produce goals in Europe’s top leagues and at the international level, and his ability to get in behind the defense will keep Ihemelu on his toes all night.
Stat that makes you go "Hm..."
1,832. Number of available seats remaining for the match (as of Thursday morning).