FC Dallas returns to action on Sunday afternoon as the Seattle Sounders visit Toyota Stadium in a pivotal Western Conference match-up. Dallas (16-8-8) will look to stay alive in the Supporters’ Shield race after the Colorado Rapids leap-frogged them for the top spot with a 2-1 win over San Jose on Thursday night. Seattle (13-13-6) is looking to return to their winning ways after a 0-0 draw against the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, their first dropped match in a month after winning the previous four games on their schedule. The home side has taken the previous two meetings this season, a 2-0 Dallas win on May 14 and a 5-0 Sounders win on July 13.
FCD sits one point back of Colorado with two games left for the top spot in MLS. In order to remain alive in the Supporters’ Shield race, Dallas has to take care of business at home and hope for Colorado to stumble in either of their next two games. An FC Dallas loss and a Rapids win on Sunday in Portland would see the Shield head to the Rockies before the final week of the season. There is no scenario where Dallas could clinch the Shield this weekend.
KEY PLAYER FOR SEATTLE
Jordan Morris – The rookie sensation has 12 goals and 3 assists in his first MLS campaign, and is a big reason why the Sounders have endured a late-season climb into a playoff spot. Almost half of his goal total on the year has come over the last two months.
Nicolas Lodeiro vs. Carlos Gruezo – It’s no coincidence that the Sounders’ rise from the depths of the West coincided with the arrival of the Uruguayan No. 10 in late July. He’s become the key cog in the Seattle attack, and much like Dallas’ offense runs through Mauro Diaz, the Sounders are centralized around Lodeiro. Which one is able to operate with the most success will largely dictate who wins Sunday’s match.
Cristian Roldan vs. Mauro Diaz – Late in Wednesday’s match for Seattle, Ozzie Alonso was shown a straight red card and thus will miss Sunday’s meeting in Texas. As FCD’s defensive midfielders will try to contain Lodeiro, the Sounders’ attempt to corral the Magic Little Unicorn took a major hit with the loss of one of their top defensive threats.
PROJECTED LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Stefan Frei; Defenders: Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres, Tyrone Mears; Midfielders: Cristian Roldan, Erik Freiberg; Alvaro Fernandez, Nicolas Lodeiro, Herculez Gomez; Forward: Jordan Morris.
KEYS TO THREE POINTS
After a grueling schedule over the last three months, FC Dallas was able to rest and re-charge, while the Sounders are facing a short turnaround and lengthy travel from Washington. As FCD enters a huge stretch of 3 games in 8 days, with the Supporters’ Shield and a CONCACAF Champions League advancement on the line, they’ll be looking to start strong in their regular season home finale. If Dallas can take advantage of their slightly injured and traveling foes under the Texas sun, they can take 3 points with them to Guatemala.