FC Dallas goes coast-to-coast this week as they prepare for a Friday night matchup against the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey. Dallas (5-2-2) is looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat last week in Vancouver and replicate a six-game unbeaten streak on the heels of their last road loss. The Red Bulls (2-6-0) are looking to ride a 3-2 win at home over Orlando City from Sunday, their second three-point performance on the year.
RACE FOR FIRST
Both clubs finished the 2015 season tied atop the MLS Standings with 60 points, with New York taking home the Supporters’ Shield on a goal differential tie breaker. Almost two months into 2016, Dallas holds the outright lead early in the 2016 Supporters’ Shield race with an MLS-best 17 points. The Red Bulls have struggled in the early season and sit 17th in the league standings, but seem to have broken a goal-scoring drought after being held scoreless in five of their first six matches.
KEY PLAYER FOR NEW YORK
Bradley Wright-Phillips – It’s no coincidence New York’s scoring drought ended at the same time as BWPs. The team’s leading scorer the last two seasons leads MLS in shots on goal (16) and had a breakout, two-goal performance against Orlando City. He’ll will be crucial if his team is to climb back into playoff contention.
Walker Zimmerman vs. Bradley Wright-Phillips – The 22-year-old has enjoyed a breakout performance over the last six months and, aside from his U.S. U-23 Olympic Qualifying call-up, has started and played a full 90 minutes in all-but-one FC Dallas match this season. He leads all Dallas players with 5 clearances per game and will be key in shutting down the NYRB attack.
Maxi Urruti vs. Luis Robles – Dallas will look to get back onto the scoresheet against the team allowing the most goals so far this season (17). Robles is the reigning MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, but hasn’t had much help in front of him – facing the third-most shots of any keeper in 2016.
PROJECTED LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles; Defenders: Kemar Lawrence, Ronald Zubar, Karl Ouimette, Sal Zizzo; Midfielders: Dax McCarty, Felipe; Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam; Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips.
KEYS TO THREE POINTS
The last time FC Dallas lost this season, they went unbeaten in their next six matches, vaulting them to the top of the Western Conference. If Dallas can suppress the NYRB attack, while capitalizing on the many chances they had no such luck converting in Vancouver last week, they should be able to start the weekend with three points.