Scouting Report: Dallas is dangerous, but 'Caps thinking big

Carl Valentine looks at Saturday's opponents

It will be interesting to see which FC Dallas team shows up for this game. Will it be the team that came out strong on Wednesday and created numerous scoring chances to run out 2-1 winners against Chicago Fire? Or the team that was shutout in four previous losses before that win, and had lost their previous three home matches?

With the victory against Chicago, Dallas have now clinched a playoff berth for this year, and they will be looking to build momentum going into the postseason by winning their last two matches. Only Toronto FC (16) and New England Revolution (17) have scored fewer goals at home than FC Dallas (18). But they do have the second best record at home for goals against (11) behind only LA Galaxy (8). This is largely due to their midseason form when they would grind out a number of low-scoring one-goal victories.

Head coach Schellas Hyndman will be looking for his team to replicate that midseason form through their much disciplined 4-4-2 formation. When they are playing well, they make sure that opposing teams have a very difficult time getting in behind their defence by defending very deep, even when playing at home. They then look to counter-attack on teams with Brazilian player Jackson looking for balls over the top of defenders so he can use his speed, and Honduran Marvin Chavez, who will sit in behind Jackson and pick up balls deeper so he can run at the opposition defence.

But an even bigger threat to a Whitecaps FC victory is midfielder Brek Shea, who is really making a name for himself this season. Still only 21 years old, Shea has taken his game to another level for FC Dallas, as well as at the international level with the United States national team under new head coach Jürgen Klinsmann. His play this season has been attracting attention from many clubs throughout Europe. He is big and strong with a ton of pace, and he loves to run at defenders at every opportunity, while finishing off with a dangerous cross or shot at goal. Being aware of Shea on the field MUST be a priority for the ‘Caps.

Whitecaps FC, meanwhile, are coming off of back-to-back victories for the first time this season. They are also out of the bottom of the MLS table and they no longer have to worry about having the record for the least amount of victories for a first-year team. This game does, however, give the ‘Caps their last chance to win an MLS match on the road this season. The players know it will be a tough match going into Dallas, but it does come at the right time with the fresh players who have been brought into the line-up. It has been a very tiring and demanding first MLS season, with injuries and suspensions making things all the tougher, but the energy that these players have brought has rejuvenated the squad down the stretch.

Not only can we get our first win on the road, but we can also beat last year’s MLS Cup finalists and avenge a 2-1 home loss against FC Dallas in April. We can also make it three wins in a row and cement ourselves as one of the hottest teams in the league.

It’s a tough task, but when you’re in Texas, you have to think BIG.