After two weeks off from league play, FC Dallas returns to the field for the first game of September to host Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The two sides have played twice before this season with Dallas coming away with a victory in the first meeting, 2-0. Whitecaps FC managed a 2-2 draw in the return match thanks to two late goals just before Jackson was sent off for an elbow.
The 'Caps have one win in their last seven matches, dating back to the middle of July. Vancouver has given up five goals in its last three matches alone.
On the season, Vancouver is 2-7-3 away from BC Place with just 11 goals scored.
Just like Dallas, Martin Rennie’s club will be missing several players to international duty. Samuel Adekugbe and Russel Teibert are gone with the Canadian national team and Darren Mattocks is away with the Jamaican national team.
The biggest injury happened back at the start of the season for Vancouver when veteran defender and captain Jay DeMerit went down with a torn Achilles tendon. DeMerit is close to recovering from that injury and is listed as questionable on the injury report.
Elsewhere, Whitecaps FC will be without Brad Rusin (ankle) and Omar Salgado (foot fracture) for this match.
Nigel Reo-Coker vs David Ferreira – The two veterans will square off once again for the third and final time this season. Reo-Coker is coming back from suspension (yellow card accumulation). He will be fresh in this one with the week off. He is the leader in the midfield for Vancouver this season. He likes to assert himself physically when defending, which means Ferreira could be fouled a good bit on Saturday.
Camilo vs Kellyn Acosta – This will easily be a focal point for Whitecaps FC's offense this weekend. Camilo hasn’t scored in his last three matches (just one goal in six games overall) and will hope facing a young player like Acosta will be the jolt he needs to get going again on the season. Acosta will have his work cut out for him as Camilo is a player who does well at cutting into the penalty box to look for scoring chances.
Key Player for Vancouver
Camilo – The Brazilian had as hot of a summer as anyone in Major League Soccer, but over the last few games he’s cooled off. Still, it doesn’t take much to get him going as he leads Vancouver in several offensive categories including goals (14), shots (91), shots on target (39) and game winning goals (4). He is also second on the team in assists with four.
Rennie has been mixing up his formations between a 4-4-2 and a 4-3-3 lately as he has had to deal with players being called up for international duty, injuries and suspensions.
Goalkeeper: David Ousted; RB: Young-Pyo Lee; CB: Andy O’Brien, Johnny Leveron; LB: Jordan Harvey; DM: Nigel Reo-Coker; CM: Gershon Koffie, Matt Watson; RW: Camilo; LW: Erik Hurtado; FW: Kenny Miller
Keys to three points
The playoff push is in full swing for both clubs. Dallas is tied with Whitecaps FC in the standings, so this match is critical for both teams' playoff chances.
Where Dallas has been successful against Vancouver this season is on set pieces. All four of Dallas' goals have come off set pieces in the previous two matches, with two of those goals being own-goals off corner kicks. Vancouver is not a good set piece defending team and will likely give up chances in their own defensive third.
Dallas will need to rely on strong midfield play in this one with Kenny Cooper suspended and Blas Perez out on international duty with Panama. Eric Hassli or Jonathan Top will have to step up in the forward role while Ferreira, Jackson, Fabian Castillo or Mauro Diaz step up in the midfield.
Defensively, the Dallas back four needs to stand their ground and not allow the easy through ball to Camilo, Miller or Kekuta Manneh. Those three like to get in behind the defense to score goals.
The three points are Dallas’ to lose in this one at home. Knowing that the playoff picture is so tight in the Western Conference, Dallas needs to take every opportunity that they can to reach the post season.