Rested FC Dallas hosts weary and wounded Sounders
FC Dallas will be rested and pulling at the bit to get back into action when its hosts the Seattle Sounders FC after a two-week break on Sunday at Toyota Stadium in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas.
FCD, which tied Real Salt Lake in its season opener on March 3 and hasn't been back in competition since, certainly will have its legs. The same likely can't be said for the Sounders, who head to north Texas on the heels of a 3-0 loss to Chivas de Guadalajara in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Dallas forward Tesho Akindele understands that the early season nature of Sunday's game and the team's bye week takes nothing away from the enduring rivalry between the two sides.
"Every game against Seattle is intense," Akindele said. "If you lose a match against a conference rival, especially at home, it can come back to haunt you. These games are just as important as the ones at the end of the year."
FC Dallas was eliminated in CCL play before the MLS season began, falling to Tauro FC of Panama in the round of 16. That loss, along with a scheduled open date last week in MLS, has given Dallas coach Oscar Pareja plenty of time to tinker with his team and its strategy moving forward.
"Of course we wanted to stay in CONCACAF to avoid this situation (of two weeks between games), and it's not easy, but we still have the competition in our heads," Dallas defender Reto Ziegler said. "We want to be up there in the standings. We didn't have the three points in the first game, but we want to respond to ourselves and also to our fans."
To beat FC Dallas, opponents have to mirror its offensive intensity. Dallas has lost just twice in their last 20 MLS home matches (10 wins, 8 draws) while limiting opponents to 1.1 goals per game.
Seattle has that firepower -- as long as it's healthy. That wasn't the case against Chivas de Guadalajara. With Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro ruled out with a foot sprain and forward Will Bruin and defender Chad Marshall coming off early in the match with injuries, Seattle cashed out of the CCL 3-1 on aggregate.
"I don't want to take anything away from Chivas because I thought they played hard and they played well," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said.
"Certainly it is a disadvantage if you lose the captain and your playmaker. It certainly is a disadvantage when you lose two players in the first half. Our team does not make excuses, but there were a lot of quality players we didn't have on the field and that made it tough for us."
Including last season's playoffs, the Sounders have won just one of their past seven MLS road matches, scoring a total of three goals in that span. That will have to change if Seattle wants to beat FC Dallas.
The Sounders own the all-time series between the two sides with 11 wins (and 39 goals) in 22 games with six draws. FC Dallas holds a 4-3 edge (with five ties) in matches played in Dallas. The last meeting at Toyota Stadium on Sept. 16, 2017, produced a scoreless draw.
Updated March 16, 2018