The MLS All-Star break has come and gone and now it is time for FC Dallas to get back to work on their 2013 season as they head to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday to face Seattle Sounders FC.
In their last meeting with the Sounders, the match was a bit of a wild one. Seattle took a early 2-0 lead but shortly after the second half break, Dallas charged back with two quick goals of their own before Seattle pulled away with two more goals. The game also saw a red card to Blas Perez, forcing Dallas to play a man down for the end of the second half.
Seattle is coming into this game off a 2-1 win over Chivas USA last weekend. Sigi Schmid’s club got goals from Brad Evans and Lamar Neagle to seal the three points.
Dallas is 1-3-1 all-time at CenturyLink Field for league matches with the last win coming in the summer of 2011 on a Brek Shea goal.
Schmid has seen his fair share of injuries this season. Currently the Sounders have a slew of players on the injury report including midfielders Shalrie Joseph (calf strain), Steve Zakuani (athletic pubalgia), and keeper Michael Gspurning (forearm sprain).
Other question marks include defender Djimi Troare and midfielder Andy Rose, both whom are dealing with a hamstring strain.
Osvaldo Alonso vs David Ferreira – Both are fantastic players for their respective clubs but going head-to-head will be interesting on Saturday for sure. Alonso will be tasked with keeping Ferreira’s passing lanes clogged up as much as he can. What Alonso does best is finding ways to keep the pressure off his back four, if he is successful it likely means the offense for Dallas could be stalled.
Obafemi Martins vs George John – John was injured for the last trip to Seattle so his homecoming to Washington will be met with going up against one of the league’s most dynamic goal scorers in Martins. The Designated Player from Seattle does an excellent job of putting himself into a spot where he can get in behind the defense to score goals.
Key Player for Seattle
Mauro Rosales – The Argentine playmaker is always a focal point of the Sounders attack. If he is able to spay balls from his right midfield spot with ease, the Sounders attack will have a nice evening in this one.
Schmid employs a fairly straight forward 4-4-2 formation that sometimes goes into a diamond midfield.
Goalkeeper: Michael Gspuring; RB: DeAndre Yedlin; CB: Patrick Ianni, Djimi Traore; LB: Leonardo Gonzalez; RM: Mauro Rosales; CM: Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans; LM: Marc Burch; FW: Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle
Keys to three points
If anything, the motivation to end the current eight-game winless run and the four-game scoreless run in league play has to be enough for FC Dallas in this one. Even on the road, Dallas has to know that this is a big match for them.
Seattle is playing pretty well these days, but they too have come up with some lackluster efforts over the last two months.
One thing Dallas has to do is to get back to basics of what worked for them early on this season. Play the ball through the midfield and on the wings with pace and take full advantage on set piece opportunities. Seattle is a team that will give Dallas their fair share of set piece chances too, as they do tend to give up a lot of fouls in their own end.
Dallas will be getting Blas Perez back from Gold Cup duty. They should lean on his good form from that tournament in this one early and often. Find him in open space up front and put the pressure on the Sounders in the back as much as they can will be the best strategy.
This is a point in the season where playoff teams are really made. If Dallas is to be one of those teams, they will need to prove it in a big road match like this one.