Know Your Enemy: Real Salt Lake

Following the biggest road win in club history, FC Dallas is back at Toyota Stadium for a big Friday night showdown with rivals Real Salt Lake.

Jeff Cassar’s club is currently leading the Western Conference with a 11-4-9 record on the season. RSL is also currently on a three-game winning streak. They are coming off a big 2-1 win last weekend at home against the Seattle Sounders.

Real Salt Lake has a 1-9-2 all-time record in North Texas, with the lone victory in Frisco coming last summer.

Back in May these two clubs met in Utah, where FC Dallas earned their first shutout of the season in a 0-0 draw.

Injury Watch

RSL has had to deal with several long-term injuries this season. John Stertzer (tibia), Rich Balchan (abductor) and Jordan Allen (knee) have all been listed as out.

The biggest loss on the season has without a doubt been forward Alvaro Saborio, who injured his foot right before the start of the World Cup.

Key Matchups

Fabian Castillo vs. Chris Wingert – Everyone in MLS has been put on watch as of late with what Castillo has been able to do. Wingert is a veteran defender that has struggled in the past against speedy midfielders like Castillo. FC Dallas fans should look for Oscar Pareja to expose this potential weakness.

Zach Loyd vs. Joao Plata - Lately Loyd has been shifted over to the center of the defense for Pareja to deal with crafty forwards like Plata. While Loyd has done well against players like Erick Torres and Chris Wondoloski, Plata may be one of the hotter players in MLS right now with four goals and two assists in his last five matches.

Key Player for RSL

Kyle Beckerman - While Plata has been hot and players like Luis Gil and Javier Morales help drive the attack, no player may be as important to the success of this club as Beckerman. The United Stated national team veteran not only keeps the pressure off his defense but he helps maintain possession and created quality chances for his team’s attack.

Projected Lineup

Cassar has stuck it out with a 4-4-2 formation this season, using a diamond midfield with Morales leading the top of it. The veteran midfielder did miss last week’s game with Seattle, so Cassar could opt to use budding young star Luis Gil instead.

Goalkeeper: Nick Rimando; RB: Tony Beltran; CB: Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers ; LB: Chris Wingert; RM: Luke Molholland; DM: Kyle Beckerman; LM: Ned Grabavoy; AM Javier Morales; FW: Joao Plata, Olmes Garcia

Keys to three points

Salt Lake continues to impress this season as they’ve gone unbeaten in their last six games. The most impressive part of this is that they are getting these results with Saborio sidelined.

This RSL side can still be broken down nicely for FC Dallas in this game though. The biggest keys for FCD on Friday will be to do well with the possession that they get, use the speed on the wings with Castillo and Andres Escobar, and limit the number of chances created by RSL.

Defensively, FCD needs to ensure they don’t allow RSL to dictate the tempo of this game.

RSL will want to control the game in the midfield, which may lead Oscar Pareja to instruct his side to sit back and wait for the counter attack like they have been doing these last few games. Given the speed that FCD has on the wings, that game plan isn’t a bad one considering RSL doesn’t have the speed on the outside to match FCD.