FC Dallas kicks off a three-game road swing on Saturday night against the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place. Dallas (5-1-2) sits atop the Supporters’ Shield standings coming off of a eight day stretch of three games, picking up 7 of a possible 9 points along the way. Vancouver (2-4-1) is left looking for answers after being held off the scoresheet in three-straight and will look to spark their offense on home turf.
Heading into back-to-back meetings in the final month of the 2015 season, Dallas and Vancouver were 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Western Conference standings. Since that time, FCD has a regular season record of 8-1-3 with 20 goals scored, while the Whitecaps have a 3-5-2 record with 9 goals. Heading into Saturday’s match, FC Dallas is in 1st place in the West, Vancouver in 9th.
KEY PLAYER FOR VANCOUVER
Blas Perez – Dallas fans know all too well just how dangerous ‘El Raton’ is, especially when he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder. After playing for FCD for four seasons, Saturday will be his first match against his former side and he’ll be looking for a big performance. In all-time meetings between Dallas and Vancouver, Blas is the leading goal scorer with 4 tallies – all wearing the red and blue.
Mauro Diaz vs. Mathias Laba – Oscar Pareja confirmed after training Thursday that the Magic Little Unicorn would be making the trip to Vancouver, and given that he hasn’t started a game on the bench since 2014, it seems likely the midfielder will make his return to the Starting XI for the first time in four matches. He was one of FCD’s best players over the first month with a goal and four assists in his first four games.
Maxi Urruti vs. Kendall Waston – FCD has won every game in 2016 that Maxi Urruti either scores or assists in. Given the likely return of fellow Argentine Mauro Diaz, Waston could have his hands full the playmaker feeding the striker all night.
PROJECTED LINEUP (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: David Ousted; Defenders: Jordan Harvey, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Fraser Aird; Midfielders: Kekuta Manneh, Mathias Laba, Andrew Jacobson, Cristian Techera; Forwards: Blas Perez, Octavio Rivero.
KEYS TO THREE POINTS
Dallas has outscored opponents 6-1 in their last two road games, and given Vancouver’s struggles offensively of late, they hope Saturday will continue the trend. If the return of Mauro Diaz can spark an offense that was scoring even in his absence, while the defense continues to absorb the loss of captain Matt Hedges – with Zach Loyd and Walker Zimmerman the go-to tandem at central defense – FCD should pick up three points in their first trip north of the border in 2016.