FC Dallas heads to the northwestern United States in search of three points on Wednesday night as they face the struggling Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
This will be the second of three meetings this season between Dallas and Seattle. Their first meeting in 2016 was a 2-0 home win for FC Dallas on May 14th, with goals scored by Mauro Diaz and Michael Barrios.
Last in the Western Conference with just 17 points from 17 matches played, manager Sigi Schmid and the Sounders face a massive uphill battle if they are to re-enter the West’s playoff race (Vancouver currently holds the final playoff spot with 25 points).
Scoring, or lack thereof, has dogged Seattle throughout the first half of the season, as they only have 14 goals while allowing 21. A 5-10-2 (W-L-D) record has seen Seattle win four of their five matches at home in front of their raucous fans, while their away form is among the worst in MLS (one win in eight matches).
A 1-0 home defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy in their most recent match on July 9th highlighted Seattle’s shortcomings in 2016. Lots of attempts on goal (22 shots to be exact) went without reward as an early Robbie Keane goal stood as the match winner.
A failure to be clinical in front of net has been the common theme of the season for the Sounders, with United States international forward Jordan Morris the only player to have scored more than two goals (the rookie has six so far).
Fellow American Clint Dempsey may be understandably fatigued from the combination of MLS and Copa America action, as the native Texan has only scored twice and has no assists this season. Three more of Seattle’s goals have come courtesy of defenders Joevin Jones and Chad Marshall.
As a unit, Seattle has not scored a goal at home in MLS play since a 2-0 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 8th. Losses at home to Colorado, New York City and the Galaxy have followed, although the Sounders have won at home in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against Kitsap Pumas and in a friendly against West Ham United.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei has made 46 saves in his 16 matches this year for Seattle, while Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz leads the team with three assists.
Following the match against Dallas on Wednesday night, Seattle will have to make the short journey to Portland for a derby match against the Timbers on Sunday afternoon.
The question for league-leading FC Dallas, 11-5-4 (W-L-D), is whether or not to rest the usual starters as the team faces a fixture crunch in the coming days. Upcoming matches on Sunday, next Wednesday and next Saturday mean that FC Dallas is about to embark on a stretch of four games in 11 days, in three different time zones.
The starting 11 that Oscar Pareja named for the 1-0 win at San Jose on July 8th was unchanged from the lineup that began the 4-0 home win against Orlando on the Fourth of July. With that in mind, one can surely expect changes to the lineup by Pareja, and perhaps a struggling Seattle team will provide the perfect chance for experimentation.
On-loan defender Aubrey David is probably still a few more days of training away from making a first team start, and with Zach Loyd still out with a concussion, there is suddenly little depth in the back for Dallas. Those factors should again lead to Pareja starting Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman (who has been excellent of late) and Atiba Harris in defense, although the use of Ryan Hollingshead in the back isn’t out of the question.
The midfield situation for FC Dallas features a few more options, with Carlos Lizarazo and Mauro Rosales both well-rested options that could be used.
Barrios’ goal against Seattle in May was one of six that he has scored for FC Dallas this season, which leads the team. If FC Dallas win on Wednesday, then there is a good chance that Diaz will have had something to do with the winning goal, as the Argentinian has four game-winning assists for Dallas this season.
With his spectacular bicycle kick goal agaisnt San Jose, forward Maxi Urruti climbed to third-place among FC Dallas players with four goals in MLS action. While Urruti leads the team in shots (45) and shots on goal (19), it is his strike partner Tesho Akindele who has been the most economical with his efforts, scoring five times on just 13 shots on goal.
Goalkeeper Chris Seitz notched his sixth shutout of the season against San Jose, giving him the lead among all MLS goalkeepers.
Television coverage for tonight’s match can be found on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel (CH 323) and radio coverage will be provided by 100.7 FM The Word and in Spanish by 1270 AM Amor Celestial.
The match will kickoff at 9:30 p.m.