In a battle of first place opponents, FC Dallas returns to Frisco to host Eastern Conference leader D.C. United on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium. FCD owns a three-game win streak, shutting out each of its opponents in the process, heading into the contest. D.C. hasn’t played a league match since a 1-0 loss to Sounders FC on July 3.
D.C. United took a big blow this week when it was announced Monday that league-leading goalkeeper Bill Hamid underwent hand and foot surgery that will keep him sidelined four to six weeks. Although Hamid has missed three of the past seven league matches for D.C., he leads the league in goals against average while earning six shutouts. On top of that, United will be without defender Sean Franklin (Achilles’ tendinitis) and midfielder Michael Farfan (hamstring strain) for Saturday’s fixture, and midfielder Chris Pontius (right calf) is questionable.
Other absences – Forward Fabian Espindola won’t make the trip after a red card in his last match, and forward Michael Seaton is away with the Jamaican National Team. Also, midfielder Luis Silva - who was recovering from an injury suffered against Seattle - was traded to Real Salt Lake on Thursday.
Key Player for D.C. United
Chris Rolfe – The MLS veteran leads the team in goals (6), assists (3), shots (42), shots on goals (18) and game-winning goals (4). For a team who hasn’t scored the past two matches, Rolfe will look to provide the attack to break his squad’s scoreless streak.
Bobby Boswell vs. Mauro Diaz – The experienced captain will have a lot of FCD heat to cool down Saturday. Boswell’s veteran experience could be the difference maker in keeping Magician Mauro from creating his usual offensive opportunities.Boswell seeks to shut down the Argentine’s masterful passes to his striker and wingers inside the box as Diaz tries to net his fifth goal of the season or seventh assist.
Chris Korb vs. Fabian Castillo - It's a matchup each opponent knows they will hit but many have failed to find the right player to shut down Castillo. If Korb lines up the way he did against Seattle, he will face the challenge of attempting to slow down the speed and skill Castillo plays with each game. Although his three-game goal streak was snapped in last week's loss to Orlando, Castillo drew the foul inside the box that led to Diaz's goal from the spot.
Goalkeeper: Andrew Dykstra; Defenders: Taylor Kemp, Steve Birnbaum, Bobby Boswell, Chris Korb; Midfielders: Chris Rolfe, Perry Kitchen, Davy Arnaud, Nick DeLeon; Forwards: Jairo Arrieta, Conor Doyle
Keys to Three Points
After overcoming a five-game road slump, FC Dallas has been hot on both sides of the ball. Now the biggest thing is to be consistent. The offense will look to continue to exploit the wings, especially with Fabian Castillo’s dangerous speed down the left side. Midfielder Victor Ulloa and forward David Texeira were able to really get involved with attack in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Orlando, and that success needs to carry over into this weekend’s match. As for the defense, captain Matt Hedges’ can continue to lead a tough back line toward another successful defensive stand.