FC Dallas v. Real Salt Lake – Match Preview

castillo goal-5514The road gets no easier for FC Dallas, as they face yet another team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race when Real Salt Lake come to Frisco this Saturday.

Real Salt Lake were in a battle for their playoff hopes last weekend against the Seattle Sounders, and they came out swinging with two early goals. A 12th minute goal by Javier Morales from the penalty spot, and a 19th minute goal from Sebastian Jaime sealed the deal.

Real Salt Lake now hit the road to Texas. Salt Lake have not won in five straight road matches.

FC Dallas were in a similar situation last weekend with their Supporters Shields hope on the line, but they put in a flat performance against the Vancouver Whitecaps, falling 1-0 after a Christian Techara goal set-up by Kekuta Manneh.

Dallas have not gained a point for three straight weeks in MLS. That has resulted in the club falling from first place in west, all the way down to fifth place, flirting with the playoff line. The chance at the Supporters Shield is gone at this point, and the focus has now shifted to just making the playoffs.

A word to describe FC Dallas would be, “streaky.” The club has gone all season on a roller coaster of form, and the rollercoaster should be going back up very soon after the summer swoon the club has hit. The club hit a similar situation last year, making a late push to make the playoffs with the help of Tesho Akindele.

Who is going to step up for the club this season? It is desperately needed with Mauro Diaz on the mends of a quad injury and Fabian Castillo struggling to find his pre all-star game form. Castillo’s performance in Vancouver was better than what he did against the Galaxy, but he is still struggling to find his teammates in dangerous situations.

Part of Castillo’s problem in finding teammates is the play of Blas Perez, who is trying to play creator over the target man striker. Perez has to sit deeper against Real Salt Lake, and shoot when he gets in the position to do so. Perez’s only shot on the night against Vancouver was blocked. Perez had the ball inside the box on multiple occasions.

Could the player that steps-up for FC Dallas be Michael Barrios? Barrios is seeing more and more of the  play shifted through him, and was the most dangerous player on the night for FC Dallas. Barrios completed 17 of his 25 passes on the night, and one of Dallas’ two shots on target. Barrios is the man to whom the focus is shifting to for Dallas. Could Castillo get going, the attack could be deadly against RSL.

The Dallas defense has not been the strongest as well. They have given up 7 goals over the past five matches, and it is likely that they will be in front of rookie homegrown keeper Jesse Gonzalez against. It is very possible we see Zach Loyd be put back into the middle of defense with Matt Hedges to cope with RSL’s speed in the middle.

Another week, another must win for FC Dallas. A loss here, could put this team on a downward slide they cannot get out of. A loss here, and it is very likely that FC Dallas could miss the playoffs.

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