Following a huge Texas Derby win over Houston, FC Dallas will play their first-ever game against expansion team FC Cincinnati.
Date: Saturday, August 31st
Time: 7:00 PM CST
Location: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
How to Watch: TXA21 (DFW), ESPN+ (outside of DFW)
This will be the first-ever matchup between FC Dallas and FC Cincinnati. Cincinnati are an expansion team playing their first season in MLS after having spent the previous three seasons playing in the USL Championship. Both sides played on Sunday, August 25th with FC Dallas coming off a 5-1 rout of in-state rivals Houston Dynamo in the Texas Derby while FC Cincinnati suffered a 3-1 home defeat to their own in-state rivals Columbus Crew in the Hell is Real Derby. Former FC Dallas winger Roland Lamah and homegrown midfielder Victor Ulloa will make their first return to Toyota Stadium since being acquired by Cincinnati in the offseason.
Cincinnati currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference with only 18 points through 27 games played and a record of 5-3-19. In the east, they trail 11th-placed Columbus by 12 points and in the overall league table, they’re behind Vancouver by 9 points. Cincinnati has conceded 64 goals to this point in the season, 10 more than the next worst defense and have only put the ball in their opponents’ net 27 times, the lowest total in the league. Put simply, FC Cincinnati are the worst team in MLS in 2019.
Dallas enters the game in the 7th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 40 points and a record of 11-7-10. Dallas is currently edging Portland out of the playoffs by 3 points, but the Timbers have 2 games in hand on Dallas. At the same time, Dallas only trail second-place Real Salt Lake by 3 points, though every team sitting above Dallas have a game in hand on Los Toros.
At this point in the season, every game remaining is massively important for Dallas and this matchup against Cincinnati is no exception. Cincinnati are almost certainly going to bring up the rear in the league table this season but they have hired their apparent manager going forward in Dutchman Ron Jans, so Cincinnati players will be playing for their potential future with the club for the rest of the season and would certainly love to play the spoiler against Dallas.
An unchanged lineup for Dallas following their 5-1 drubbing of the Houston Dynamo. Paxton Pomykal, fresh off receiving his first-ever call up to the senior men’s national team, remains on the bench to continue nursing his hamstring knock and to keep him as fresh as possible for the national team camp. Ondrusek retains his spot at striker following a two-goal performance against Houston, keeping Dominique Badji on the left-wing, where he has been most effective throughout the season.
A largely unchanged side from the team that lost 3-1 to Columbus. This side is hard to predict with new manager Ron Jans still getting to know his players. Normal right-back Mathieu Deplagne will miss his first game all season due to injury, versatile defender Justin Hoyte, who has spent time playing center back this season, replaces him at right-back. Emmanuel Ledesma, Joe Gyau and Kekuta Manneh are additional attacking options who Jans may elect to give a start to in place of Lamah, Mattocks or Etienne. Leonardo Bertone was a regular in midfield and could potentially start over Caleb Stanko, who was subbed out of the loss to Columbus.
Keys to the Match
Everything is set up for this to be a classic trap game, a lowly team with very little to play for coming up against a team fighting for the playoffs after stomping their rivals. FC Dallas needs to be absolutely ruthless in their approach to the game, the team needs to come out fast and strong against Cincinnati and get themselves on the front foot early and don’t allow Cincinnati any room to breathe. In their remaining schedule, this is by far the most winnable game, FC Dallas needs to be aggressive and attack the game if they want to ensure that it really is the most winnable game on the schedule.
Of course, Dallas needs to be aggressive and ruthless and take the game to Cincinnati, but they need to be careful and cautious in some aspects as well. Both Bryan Acosta and Jesus Ferreira will be suspended one game on their next yellow card, avoiding that fate for as long as possible will be hugely preferable for FC Dallas. Dallas players can’t get caught up in things and lose their heads at any point through the rest of the season, any kind of red card suspension to a key player would be a massive issue. Dallas must find the balance between playing aggressively and confidently and playing smart and controlled to ensure that the squad is as full strength as possible throughout the end of the season.
Lost in all the joy of the 5-1 destruction of the Dynamo was that Dallas conceded a really poor goal to Houston. Luckily it was just a goal to make it 4-1 but Dallas can’t afford to continue making mistakes and giving teams easy scoring opportunities. In that situation, Dallas simply lost the ball in their own third and Houston was able to very quickly put the ball in the net. Dallas was fortunate that this happened after the game was done and dusted against Houston but if something similar were to happen against Cincinnati in the early stages of the game it could lead to disaster for Los Toros. Dallas players will need to fully focus on taking care of FC Cincinnati and ensure that they are up to the same standard they would be playing against a top team in MLS.
Will FC Dallas follow up on their Texas Derby win with another big win against FC Cincinnati? Who should get the start against Cincinnati? Will the Kobra get a goal for the third straight game? Sound off in the comments below!
Featured Image: FC Cincinnati