FC Dallas will follow up their squeaky US Open Cup win with a matchup against in-state rivals Austin FC.

Let’s look at three FC Dallas players who need to have strong performances if FCD wants to end the night with three points.

Jesus Ferreira

Obviously, right? Not exactly a shocker that FC Dallas’ homegrown DP forward needs to have a big night for Dallas to perform well. But this is an important moment for Ferreira as he works back into the team after his return from injury. There have been a few promising signs that the connection between Ferreira and fellow DP forward Petar Musa is strengthening, a piece of the puzzle that FCD’s leadership was heavily relying on coming good in 2024. But Ferreira also does not look like a player at 100% at all. Against Memphis 901 in the Open Cup, Ferreira got a relatively surprising start and ended up getting an assist on Logan Farrington’s game-winning goal, but outside of that moment, Ferreira looked hesitant and like a player lacking confidence not only in his game but in his body.

Ferreira is certainly still recovering, and each game will be another step forward in that recovery process, but this match against an in-state rival at home is a major opportunity for him to work back to his pre-2023 Gold Cup form that was so strong.

Nkosi Tafari

FCD’s top defender has not had an ideal start to the season, getting benched for a couple of games after a bit of a rough start to the season. Tafari actually played what was perhaps his worst game in an FCD shirt in the first game against Austin, ending up at least partially at fault for both Austin goals. Since being restored to the lineup, however, Tafari has picked up his play and returned to a level much closer to what everyone around the club expects out of him.

Tafari has never hidden his distaste for the Burn’s rivals, and after what happened at the end of March, he’ll surely be up for this game. He delivered one of the best moments of Dallas’ 2023 season with his last-second game-winning goal against Austin, and he’ll look to deliver a similar kind of impact in this one. His leadership, organizing, defensive work, and passing out of the back will all be crucial for Dallas to come away with a big rivalry win and work to get their league season back on track.

Logan Farrington

Dallas’ rookie forward got his first professional goal against Memphis, slamming home a shot from Jesus Ferreira’s set-piece delivery. It was a great moment for Farrington, who has looked bright in his limited opportunities but has largely been stuck behind Petar Musa up top.

I doubt Farrington will start against Austin (though it wouldn’t shock me if he is deployed as one of the inside forwards behind Musa), but he is sure to get a run out after his strong performance against Memphis. I’ve included him here because I think the proverbial monkey is off his back, and whether he subs in or starts, he has a role to play against Austin. More than likely, this is going to be a cagey, tight game without a ton of clear chances for either team. Austin has morphed into a defensive-minded team, largely sitting back and trying to hit teams on the counter. Dallas largely wants to play in a similar fashion, emphasizing defense over an expansive attacking setup.

Most likely, the game is going to be a close affair late on, and Farrington, who seems likely to be a substitute, is someone who might be able to tip the scales late on for a Dallas win. He might not be the one who scores the goal himself, but Farrington puts himself about well. He’s a willing and smart runner, good on the ball, wins fouls well, and presses well, all ingredients to, if nothing else, be involved in something good for Dallas offensively.

What do you think FCD needs to do to beat Austin on Saturday night? 

PHOTO: FC Dallas

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