Ahead of Saturday’s home match versus FC Dallas we reached out to our sister blog in the Lone Star state, Big D Soccer, and asked some questions about the current status of their team. Managing Editor Drew Epperley was very kind to provide great answers.
Stumptown Footy: Dallas won 3-0 over RSL. Following that, they went 4 games (D-L-L-D) without a win. But most recently destroyed RSL again, this time to the tune of 6-2. Are Dallas out of the similar rough patch like Portland has been in or do you just have RSL's number this season?
Drew Epperley, Big D Soccer: Given the injury situation (Walker Zimmerman) and the national team call ups (Matt Hedges, Kellyn Acosta, Maynor Figueroa, and Tesho Akindele) we could be in for another rough patch. This is the first of three straight road trips as well for the club. While I would like to think the RSL game last weekend will kick start this team into a good trend, we may have to wait until July for that to be the case.
Still, there was a lot to really like about that win on Saturday that could lend itself to a good performance this weekend on the road. For one, the attack looked like we all thought it would with Michael Barrios and Roland Lamah being very active from the wings. One had three assists (Barrios) and the other had the second fastest hat trick in league history (Lamah). If those two can continue their good form and the rest of the midfield (Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa) can hold things down in front of a defense that will likely see a converted CB in Atiba Harris and a rookie CB in Walker Hume start, along with a Homegrown defender at LB in Aaron Guillen, then they could get out of this with a point. But that will be asking a lot of everyone.
STF: For those of us who aren't as familiar with Dallas, who will you be losing to international duty and who does the team replace them with?
BDS: Like I mentioned above we have four guys out this weekend. Hedges gets replaced likely by the rookie, Hume. Not at all a like for like replacement but the rookie did show well in his first start two weeks ago in Chicago so there is some hope. Acosta will see Ulloa slide into his role, which worked well last week against RSL. Figueroa will be replaced by Guillen. And if Akindele were a starter this weekend, he would be replaced by Cristian Colman.
STF: What are the keys to victory for Dallas as they try to get a win against a team that isn't RSL since April 22nd's 1-0 victory of Sporting Kansas City?
BDS: This group, they need to ride that confidence boost that they got last weekend in the attack. Keeping Barrios, Lamah and Urruti active in the offensive third will be tough but something Gruezo and Ulloa will likely still be able to do as they clog up passing lanes in the middle of the pitch. Defensively, they need to make sure to keep the ball in front of them and not allow Portland to run all over them in the defensive third. When you have three new starters in the defense, you hope and pray for the best. If Gruezo and Ulloa can keep the pressure off that backline just enough, we'll see a pretty even match between these two sides.
Bonus Predicted XI for Dallas from Drew:
Jesse Gonzalez, Hernan Grana, Walker Hume, Atiba Harris, Aaron Guillen, Michael Barrios, Carlos Gruezo, Victor Ulloa, Roland Lamah, Cristian Colman, Maxi Urruti