VANCOUVER, BC – League-leaders FC Dallas come to town this weekend for the first and only time this season. They aren’t exactly a new foe to Whitecaps FC – in fact, they’re one of the club’s biggest rivals – but here’s a scouting report to get you reacquainted ahead of Saturday’s match.
TICKETS: http://ow.ly/4mRRDb | KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. PT | TV: TSN | RADIO: TSN 1040
Through eight matches, FC Dallas sit atop the MLS table with 17 points and a 5W-1L-2D record. What makes them so dangerous is that they can hurt you in different ways.
It’s not just one player. It’s the whole offensive unit.
If there was one player to circle in on, though, it would probably be Argentine playmaker Mauro Diaz. Despite having only played four of the team’s eight matches – he’s been dealing with a hamstring strain – Diaz leads the team with four assists and is tied for the team-lead with 12 chances created.
The good news for Vancouver is that Diaz remains a question mark for the weekend. The bad news: Dallas are scoring goals for fun – with or without him. They lead MLS with 15 goals thus far.
Another big name to watch is left winger Fabian Castillo.
The Colombian has blazing speed, which makes him most dangerous on the counter and in one-v-one situations. He loves taking defenders on. Case in point: he leads MLS with 53 attempted and 25 completed dribbles (defined by Opta Sports as a successful attempt by a player to beat a defender while retaining possession).
Castillo will be lined up directly opposite to winger-turned-right back Fraser Aird should he get the start, which will be another stiff test for the young Canadian who has already had to deal with the likes of Ignacio Piatti, Graham Zusi, Clint Dempsey, and most recently Joao Plata this season.
Castillo has two goals and two assists so far this season.
On the other side of the pitch, there’s fellow Colombian and right winger Michael Barrios, who actually leads FC Dallas with four goals. Further up the field, strikers Maximiliano Urruti and Tesho Akindele both have three goals and two assists.
As mentioned, they can hurt you in different ways.
With Diaz sidelined, Urruti and Akindele have actually be starting up top in a 4-4-2 formation (Diaz usually plays as a #10 in a 4-2-3-1 when he’s in the lineup).
FC Dallas starting XI on April 17 vs. Sporting KC
Urruti in particular has been key to Dallas’ success – with and without the ball.
His offensive production speaks for itself (he’s also tied for the team-lead in chances created). Equally important has been his play without the ball – mainly his ability to wreak havoc for opposing defenders. For example, Urruti leads all forwards with 23 tackles. That puts him in the top 10 among all players for tackles, which is pretty unusual for an out-and-out striker.
Urruti is one of three Argentines on Dallas’ roster.
We already talked about Diaz. The other? None other than Mauro Rosales.
Rosales, of course, was dealt to Dallas from Whitecaps FC in exchange for Blas Perez in the preseason, which makes for an intriguing storyline to watch on Saturday. Rosales has yet to start for Dallas this season, but he’s appeared as a substitute in six of eight matches – at which point Dallas has typically reverted back to their preferred 4-2-3-1 with Rosales as the #10.
Last week, Rosales scored his first goal for FC Dallas – a free kick from about 20 yards – in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City. Could we see him make his first start on Saturday?
Dallas will be without centre back and captain Matt Hedges this weekend – and for the next four to six weeks. It was announced this week that Hedges, who was a finalist for the 2015 MLS Defender of the Year award, suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee.
In his absence, it’s likely that Zach Loyd and Walker Zimmerman will partner in central defence.
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! 2016 Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are on sale from $39/month all in. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.