FC Dallas has not won a game since May. Yes, you read that right - May. That includes US Open Cup, international friendlies and now ten consecutive league games. In fact, before last weekend's dramatic 3-3 draw with LA Galaxy, the Hoops hadn't scored in any competition since June 29.
Each of the three previous Portland-Dallas games have been extremely close: the first, in Frisco, ending in a 1-1 draw in May, the second a Timbers 1-0 win at Jeld-Wen Field in June and of course Portland's come-from-behind 3-2 Open Cup quarterfinal victory in Frisco in late June.
We reached out to SB Nation's FC Dallas blog, Big D Soccer, for some insight into what's happened in Dallas and what we can expect from the Hoops on Saturday night here in Portland.
1. It's been a long time since FC Dallas won an MLS game (May 25 at San Jose). Is there any one reason that stands out as an explanation, or are multiple layers?
There are multiple layers. Injuries to key players such as George John and David Ferreira have impacted performance. David in particular has been getting hammered. He sits at the top of the list for fouls suffered, and for a guy who missed more than a year after a horror tackle broke his ankle, it is frustrating and fatiguing. We've lost Blas Perez and Raul Fernandez to international duty. Then there is the confidence. Not only was FCD not winning, but for six straight games (5 league, 1 friendly) the squad was unable to score one goal. Recently team leadership and coaching tactics have come under question, so it isn't any one issue which means there isn't one solution.
2. Even though they didn't win last weekend, did scoring three goals against LA Galaxy break whatever hex was looming over Dallas?
Absolutely it helped. FC Dallas set a new club record for minutes without a goal. It's an unfortunate record to set after starting out 2013 with the best record in club history. Scoring 3 goals against the LA Galaxy is a great way to end the drought. I'll temporarily forget that FCD also conceded 3 goals, for the purposes of this question.
The next step is going to be continuing on scoring more goals to build that momentum and confidence into the positive spectrum. The boys from Texas are going to be hungry at the whistle in Portland.
3. This game will be the third regular season meeting between Portland and Dallas, fourth if you include the Open Cup and fifth if you include the pre-season tournament just before First Kick. What lessons can FC Dallas draw from those previous encounters?
So far, it doesn't look like FC Dallas has learned much since the past three matches have been draw-loss-loss. Schellas Hyndman has come under fire for his lack of tactical flexibility. We can only hope that Hyndman has made adjustments with the team to overcome the team's failings these past few encounters against Portland. It has just been playing against Portland though, as recent events prove. FC Dallas has work to do independent of the opponent to continue producing offensively and closing out games without conceding preventable goals.
Bonus: Who is out injured and how do you expect Dallas to line up on Saturday night?
Zach Loyd, Andrew Jacobson, and Walker Zimmerman are all out injured. Erick isn't quite match fit, but reports this week say that Hyndman is pushing for him to get at least 45 minutes in Portland this weekend.
After an improved result against LA last week, I expect we will see a similar lineup from Dallas with slight changes to account for the injuries. Raul Fernandez is back from international duty with Peru, so he will likely get the start over Chris Seitz.
Raul Fernandez, Jair Benitez, Matt Hedges, George John, Kellyn Acosta, Erick, David Ferreira, Jackson, Fabian Castillo, Kenny Cooper, Blas Perez