FRISCO, Texas -- After a 10-day layoff, FC Dallas returns to action for a busy week that sees two home games at FC Dallas Stadium.
First up is a visit from the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.
FC Dallas has had success over the last couple years against Portland at home, going 2-0-1 with ten goals scored in those three games.
Rookie head coach Caleb Porter’s squad comes into this match with just one loss on the season and one of the league’s better records. Currently the Timbers are 3-1-5 on the season with their last loss coming all the way back on March 9 to the Montreal Impact.
Portland is coming off a 0-0 draw to the New England Revolution last Thursday night.
Portland has had a couple of players on the injury list for most of the season so far. Both Bright Dike and Brent Richards are out due to ACL surgery. Defender David Horst is also out due to surgery on his tibia.
Last Thursday against the New England Revolution, veteran defender Mikael Silvestre left the game with an ACL tear. He is expected to miss six-to-nine months of action for the Timbers. That may be the biggest loss of all considering how well Silvestre has been for the back line so far this season.
Darlington Nagbe vs. Jair Benitez – Dealing with speed has been an issue this season for Benitez. The veteran defender will face a tall task on Wednesday night when he goes up against Nagbe. The 22-year-old Timber has two goals and one assist on the season.
Key Player for Portland
Diego Chara – The Colombian Designated Player has really come into his own under Porter’s style of play. Lately, he’s been lined up in the midfield along with Will Johnson and Diego Valeri and that has opened up his ability to win balls in space and open up the attack for the Timbers.
Porter lately has been employing a 4-3-3 formation this season though you could argue that at times it resembles more of a 4-2-1-3.
Goalkeeper: Donovan Ricketts; RB: Michael Harrington; CB: Mamadou Danso, Andrew Jean-Baptiste; LB: Jack Jewsbury; RM: Diego Valeri; CM: Diego Chara; LM: Will Johnson; RW: Darlington Nagbe; LW: Rodney Wallace; FW: Ryan Johnson
Keys to three points
Portland got off to a slow start to begin the season, but over the last month, Porter’s team has really taken off with its high-possession and high-attack style of play. The Timbers haven’t lost since Week 2 in MLS, the same week that FC Dallas last suffered a loss.
What Portland does well is apply pressure up front. They have talented players in Valeri, Chara, Nagbe, Ryan Johnson and Will Johnson. Defensively, they have improved a great deal ever since Jack Jewsbury was moved to the back line. Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts has also stepped up and has recorded three shutouts this season.
The Timbers have been solid in creating counter attack situations this year. FC Dallas will need to control the possession as well to eliminate the amount of chances the Timbers are able to create on goal. Portland has only been shutout once this season, which means they tend to make the most of their chances.
FC Dallas will need to use the width of the field in this match and find ways to make the Timbers chase the game. Fabian Castillo will need to have a big match in place of the suspended Jackson.
While the Timbers have improved this season under Porter, FC Dallas has the rested legs and momentum at home that should be able to carry it to another victory.