The last three weeks have been very kind to FC Dallas.
Since coming back from the franchise-record five-match road trip that saw them travel all over, from Montreal to Seattle and a number of points in between, and securing just two points, the Hoops have seen their fortunes reverse here the past few weeks. In the last three matches, though sandwiched in between a 4-0 U.S. Open Cup loss to Kansas City, FC Dallas has rebounded nicely with three wins — all of which were shutout victories. The result was a massive swing for the Hoops, who went from just above the playoff cutoff line to in a three-way tie for first in the Western Conference with games in hand over Vancouver and Seattle.
But as with all good things, there is a kicker: those three teams — Houston, New England and Orlando — weren’t exactly quality opponents. Houston is, well, Houston. New England has struggled mightily this month. And Orlando was missing Kaka, Cyle Larin (the two of which have been basically all of their offense) and Brek Shea.
Now, FC Dallas will get a chance to secure that quality win that they’ve been missing in this recent run with a home match Saturday against Eastern Conference leading D.C. United.
United come into this match with an MLS-leading 35 points and well rested after getting last weekend off. While United isn’t exactly known for its goal-scoring prowess this season, with just 23 goals in 21 matches, they have a pretty staunch defense headed up by Bill Hamid, who’s in the running for one of the best keepers in the league. Currently Hamid leads the league in goals against average (among those who have played in the majority of their teams’ matches this season) with a .75 GAA. He also sits near the top with 59 saves.
And it will be sort of a strength-on-strength match up between the two teams Saturday night. While the defense has certainly been stellar — three-straight clean sheets don’t just happen on their own — it’s been the offense that has really carried the team during the win streak. Mauro Diaz is really starting to turn into the player FC Dallas needs him to be as the number 10 for the team. He’s gotten a lot more creative, as his six assists this season shows. He had a great one-two touch against Houston with Fabian Castillo for a goal and had a nice under-the-wall goal off of a free kick against New England. And it’s also come with the re-emergence of Fabian Castillo, who is tied for ninth in the league with seven goals. And that pairing has been a big reason this offense has scored at least two goals in each of the last three wins.
Now, the last time the Hoops faced off against a top team in league action, it was a dismal 3-0 loss at Seattle and there’s always the worry that this team might come up short against tougher competition.
But this recent run has seen solid outings from all facets from the game and things only stand to get better for the squad with Tesho Akindele coming back from the Gold Cup early. And three points at home against the statistically -best team in the league would ensure that this recent run is no fluke.