Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of WVHooligan.com. His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.
FC Dallas (3-4-3, 12 points) continues its busy week as they host Seattle Sounders FC (6-1-1, 19 points) on Wednesday evening at FC Dallas Stadium (7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest Plus).
Seattle has won their last four games – with the last two being shutout victories at home over the LA Galaxy and the Philadelphia Union.
Both teams traded 1-0 victories last season with Seattle winning in Frisco.
FC Dallas is hoping to bounce back after a disappointing 0-2 loss on Sunday to the Colorado Rapids that saw two ejections in the first half for Dallas.
Attack finding their stride
Seattle manager Sigi Schmid has plenty to offer up in his attack. Colombian Fredy Montero finally found the back of the net last week against LA. His 35-yard strike in the open field found its way into the top corner of the net and instantly became a Goal of the Year candidate.
Montero is always a threat and his new strike partner for this season, Eddie Johnson, is finally finding his way as well into the attack. The former FC Dallas striker has two goals to his name this season – including one from last week against LA.
The biggest surprise of the season so far for the Sounders is the play of David Estrada. The 24-year old has four goals to his name, including a hat trick scored back at the start of the season against Toronto FC.
Schmid recently got back one of his main offensive weapons in Mauro Rosales. The Emerald City captain led the Sounders with 13 assists last season and is finally healthy here this season. Rosales bagged the game-winner on Saturday over the Union.
Rounding out the attack will either be Brad Evans or Uruguayan Designated Player Alvaro Fernandez. It is unclear if the DP winger will be able to go on Wednesday as he has been sidelined recently with a quad strain.
Against Philadelphia, Schmid used two new faces in the midfield in Alex Caskey and Andy Rose. Caskey started on the left wing opposite of Rosales and found himself in a few good scoring chances.
Defense leading the way
While the Sounders have an attack that has carried them to six wins this season, it is their defense that continues to be the most consistent element of their team. In eight games the Sounders have given up a total of three goals.
A lot of that comes down to Osvaldo Alonso in the midfield.
Seattle’s defensive midfielder is arguably one of the league’s best players. The Cuban breaks up passes, clogs up open space, and sets the tone of the game for the Sounders.
Behind Alonso is a tough back four with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Jeff Parke in the center defensive roles. Schmid also has solid depth in this area as he can turn to Patrick Ianni.
Zach Scott has nailed down the right back spot while Schmid has rotated Leo Gonzalez and Marc Burch at left back. Expect to see Burch with Gonzalez out for Wednesday night after earning a one-match suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
Swedish full back Adam Johansson has also seen plenty of time this season at right back and was used on Saturday against the Union.
Goalkeeper Bryan Meredith earned his first career shutout on Saturday and will likely get the call in goal for the injured Michael Gspurning.
Keys to three points
No Blas Perez or Daniel Hernandez makes this a tricky fixture for Schellas Hyndman. Seattle is arguably the league’s hottest team at the moment and are coming in looking more dangerous by the second.
Seattle won’t give up chances easy on goal and their only loss this year came on a penalty kick to San Jose. Seattle dominated that game but failed to convert chances on goal. Dallas will have to frustrate the Sounders defensively and focus in on limiting the amount of space that Rosales gets on the right wing.
Both teams are in the middle of a tough stretch of games but the Sounders are playing their third in a week’s time and have another this weekend. Dallas will want to spread them out on the wings and hope to make Seattle chase the game.
Dallas will want to be mentally strong in this game and not commit fouls like they did against the Rapids.