Forgive the lack of a proper team preview on FC Dallas for this game. Time just kinda got away from me over the last couple days. No matter though, I'll just spend a bit more time on the usual micro-preview attached to our Match Day Threads.
I'm not going to paint a rosy picture for you guys, today's game is going to be tough, probably our toughest since we faced the Colorado Rapids in their home opener. FC Dallas, despite seemingly being low on the standings right now is a solid team, one that was dominant in both the regular season and play-offs last year. Not much has changed for them between then and now and I expect they'll be coming here to Portland with the intent of taking three points home.
Luckily for our guys, it was pretty apparent on Thursday just how much of an impact the TImbers Army and fans have on the team.
Assessing Our Team
Coming off a 4- 2 victory over the Chicago Fire last Thursday certainly has its advantages. For starters, our guys are now brimming with confidence, knowing that they have a serious home advantage is likely to give them an even greater boost. Additionally, both Jorge Perlaza and Kenny Cooper are really getting into the whole scoring game. While Cooper's goal was, unfortunately, called back he was still every bit as active on the field as Jorge Perlaza who scored a brace.
The flip side of this is our guys will be fairly tired and exhausted having to play having less than 72 hours to recuperate between Thursday's brawl and today's game. That's definitely something we should be worried about.Here is my projected starting line up:
Jake Gleeson; Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Mamadou Futty Danso, Rodney Wallace; Jeremy Hall, Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan; Jorge Perlaza, Kenny Cooper.
You'll notice this is the same guys who started on Thursday. Despite having some exhaustion issues, I'm fairly confident John Spencer will ant to keep the same guys who played so well on Thursday in for today's match up. Besides, our guys are all fairly young, they can take a bit of added stress.
I would also like to see both Sal Zizzo and Darlington Nagbe to be starters and perhaps they will, with Nagbe coming in for James Marcelin instead of Khalif Alhassan, since I really liked what Alhassan was doing on Thursday. As they recover from their respective injuries, however, they'll probably shift more and more into starting positions.
Assessing the Enemy
I gave you a taste of it in the opening paragraphs, but, suffice it to say, we could very well witness our first home defeat tonight. I honestly wouldn't be surprised. Anybody who thinks this game is a lock based on our experiences from last Thursday should read on.
FC Dallas has a lot going for them, even if they haven't shown it in the beginning games of this season. For starters, they hold the league MVP from 2010 in Colombian David Ferreira, a player who is easily up their with the likes of Landon Donovan in terms of controlling the midfield and leading to fantastic goals. This guy was the MVP for a reason last year, and one only has to watch a few highlight reels of him from 2010 to see why. He is an incredibly talented midfielder.
Beyond Ferreira, FC Dallas has a world class goalkeeper in their backline, one who is far better and more expeirenced than Chicago's relatively young keeper. Kevin Hartman was one of the leading goalkeepers for 2010 and I fully expect him to find his form tonight eventually. We just have to hope it's not against us.
Finally, one more highlight goes to Dallas youngster Brek Shea, an interesting and versatile player who is usually playing either on the center wing or up front. While he's still developing, he's been called up for the USMNT this year adding more confidence than he had last year. I'd say that makes him a fairly dangerous threat should he get game time today. Not everybody gets called up for national team duty and you've got to show serious promise to get that call...
Physical is the word that immediately jumps to mind. Our guys are riding a wave of confidence and emotion after Thursday's game while FC Dallas is desperately looking to jump into the upper echelons of the Western Conference. One thing's for sure, whichever team wins today will reach that coveted 4th spot in the conference. If our guys can muster the strength and shear force of will to stop FC Dallas, we could be that team.
Oh and just as a bonus, were we to win we'd be higher in the standings than both the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps. If that's not motivation enough I don't know what is...