Back home for their third game in eight days, FC Dallas host the top team in the Eastern Conference as they battle to stay in the playoff picture.
Date: Sunday, September 22nd
Time: 5:00 PM CST
Location: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
How to Watch: Univision/Twitter
This will be the only match-up between FC Dallas and NYCFC this season, outside of an unlikely MLS Cup encounter, and only the 5th match between the clubs all-time. Previous match-ups have resulted in one win for each side and two draws. This will mark the first time Dallas will match up against NYCFC in the post-David Villa era and will also be the first time that Dallas will face off against a Dome Torrent led NYCFC.
The two sides enter the contest on different ends of their respective playoff pictures. Following Dallas’ 0-0 draw against Seattle, along with New York Red Bulls defeat of Portland Timbers, Dallas has retaken the 7th and final playoff spot entering the weekend. Dallas’ 44 points through a 12-8-11 record is good enough to be one point ahead of Portland and only two points behind 4th place Real Salt Lake, although every team in the playoff picture other than Seattle have a game in hand on Dallas. Dallas’ recent form has been hit or miss, going 2-2-1 in their last five games. That form will need to improve over the last 3 games to secure a playoff spot.
On the other hand, NYCFC enter the weekend on top of the Eastern Conference at 57 points from a 16-9-5 record, a full five points clear of second-place Philadelphia. Outside of the dominant LAFC, NYCFC have been the best team in the league and the metrics show it. Only LAFC have lost less times, only LAFC have won more games and only LAFC have a superior goal differential. Their recent form is very strong as well, they haven’t lost since going away to Atlanta on August 11th. In the east, NYCFC, Philadelphia and Atlanta United have stepped away from the rest of the pack, but NYCFC have an opportunity to take a huge step toward clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference and everything that comes with it against Dallas on Sunday.
This lineup would feature quite a few changes from the starting lineup that played Seattle. Reggie Cannon, who was a second-half sub against Seattle, returns to the lineup at right back in place of Bressan. The midfield three of Bryan Acosta, Brandon Servania and Jesus Ferreira has been consistent in Dallas’ positive results recently and is unchanged. Zdenek Ondrasek, an unused substitute against Seattle, returns to the starting lineup and Paxton Pomykal retains his spot on the wing, dropping Dominique Badji to the bench. Santiago Mosquera made a second-half substitute appearance, don’t be surprised to see him make an appearance in this lineup.
New York City FC
This lineup is completely unchanged from the starting 11 that beat San Jose 2-1 in NYC last Saturday. Dynamic attacking midfielder Maxi Moralez was listed as questionable for that game but failed to make the 18, don’t be surprised to see him used as a second-half impact sub by Dome Torrent if the situation calls for it. Ebenzer Ofori is an additional option in midfield but Finnish international Alexander Ring and Plano native Keaton Parks have established themselves in the spots he would play. After a poor first season in NYCFC, striker Valentin Castellanos has come on strong in 2019 with 10 goals and 4 assists in 27 appearances.
Keys to the Match
Even in the absence of David Villa, NYCFC are very dangerous going forward. After a disastrous day of defending against Chicago, Dallas was vastly improved at the back mid-week against Seattle. The disastrous errors seen against Chicago and a basic lack of effort at times were completely cleaned up. Dallas will have to maintain this level of intensity and structure on defense against NYCFC. NYCFC are top of their conference for a reason and they will not hesitate to react to and punish any mistake at the back from Dallas.
Strength in Midfield
Dallas’ midfield has slipped in their performances in the last couple of games. After dominant performances against Houston and Cincinnati and the long lay off for the international break, the midfield was completely overrun against Chicago and, although they were much better against Seattle, they were never able to truly settle in and dominate the middle of the park, even after Seattle was down to 10 men late in the game. It will be a real challenge against a very strong NYCFC midfield, but Dallas will need to take charge of the midfield if they want to take all 3 points at home.
Take Advantage of the Heat
It gets hot in New York City in the summer but that part of the country hasn’t been at the levels of heat North Texas has seen in over a month. The forecasted high for Sunday in Frisco is a lovely 92 degrees, a high that most places in the country haven’t experienced in months. Dallas needs to take advantage of the fact that they live and train in this kind of weather on a day to day basis. They have to be relentless in attacking the NYC back line right from the start of the game. NYCFC have been one of the best defensive units in the league, only giving up 37 goals through 30 games to this point, so any possible advantage FC Dallas can gain will need to be used to take the 3 points.
Can Dallas take all 3 points against the best team in the Eastern Conference? How will Luchi Gonzalez set the team up after two very different lineups earlier in the week? Sound off below in the comment section!
Featured Image: Brad Penner-USA Today Sports