Here's a weird fact about D.C. United and FC Dallas: Bill Hamid hasn't faced the Team Formerly Known as Burn since July of 2011. United has only played Dallas once in each of the past two seasons, and both times it was Joe Willis between the sticks for the Black-and-Red. Tomorrow night, we could see United's homegrown GK again sit out against FCD, as backup Andrew Dykstra has had the hot hand, allowing only one goal in three appearances as Hamid has recovered from a toe injury.
Not that that has anything to do with the rest of this post, I just thought it was interesting. Anyway, here are our predictions for the game tomorrow night. Be sure to let us know in the comments how you think it'll go down at RFK stadium.
In the Behind Enemy Lines segment, I was very optimistic and suggested a 2-2 tie. What the heck; I will stay with that prediction. I think that D.C. United can pull off the improbable tie and keep themselves rolling.
I so badly want to say this game will be a win, but it's going to be a draw -- and barely. I'm predicting a half-time score of DC 1, Dallas 2. But a second half of non-stop high pressure from DC will eventually pay off, as the FCD defense runs out of steam, RFK's twelfth man keeps DC pumped, and EJ equalizes in the last 10 minutes of the game (it won't be EJ, though, precisely because I just said it would be), turning the remaining minutes into an absolute thriller. OMG. OMG. OMG. Alas, no further goals. 2-2 draw.
Expect to see a replay of last week's game against Columbus with the Black-and-Red starting the game out with high pressure and a determined attack. After generating a first half goal from the feared Espindola-Rolfe partnership, D.C. United turns more defensive for the remainder of the game and finally puts EJ on the board with a second half counter fueled by DeLeon. The defense eventually gives up a late goal to Dallas but holds on for the 2-1 win.
Dallas has been a very odd team this season. They've looked very good in brief chunks of just about every game they've played, but they often find themselves struggling to create many shots or chances. They're topping the table with 16 points, but they've been beating up on some of the worst teams in the league (and they've played 5 of 7 games at home). They have plenty of dangerous players going forward, yet they're very reliant on set piece goals.
I would have been more skeptical about United's chances here had we not just forced Federico Higuain into his worst game of 2014. Diaz isn't Higuain, but last week's surprising discipline in compressing the central space will still make it a tough night for this second of three straight talented Argentine #10s (next week: Diego Valeri). I think both teams will grab a set piece goal (or maybe Dallas converts a PK), and then United takes advantage of an advantageous mix of sketchy FCD defending, tired legs from the long trip out here, and perhaps even a red card for the Texans. 2-1 DC, with DeLeon grabbing the winner.
I'm conflicted a little, mainly because I think Dallas is not as good as their record indicates. Sure, they're 5-1-1, then I see wins against Montreal, Portland and Chivas, who are a combined 1-10-10. Toss Houston into the mix, and they've played the four teams who have given up the most goals in this young season. And we have not talked about Toronto, who dressed all 3 goalies in the 18 last week in Dallas. They salvaged a point in Kansas City against a team that was preparing for CCL play, and allowed 3 to Seattle. They start the MLS version of Greg Oden and in Jair Benitez (who I learned this week is 35 years old) is the MLS version of Benjamin Button, so clearly Pareja's got a deal with the devil going and I think will regress to the mean at some point.
That said, the DC midfield is not only going to have to get through Thomas, but deal with Castillo and Watson on the outside flanks. While Dallas scores a lot, they have been letting teams get a few looks on goal (as a team would when they give Stephen Keel playing time I suppose). What DC wants to do with that defense remains to be seen, but then again I thought they would lose to the Crew, so what do I know? I think DC comes out of this sharing the points 1-1 with Dallas in what will be seen as an ultimately disappointing encounter.
Little respite comes after having to contend with Federico Higuain, as Mauro Diaz comes calling with FC Dallas. Stopping Diaz from facilitating the attack will not be easy, but limiting his impact is a necessity to come away with all three points. On offense, United must find a way to take advantage of the offensive tendencies of Dallas' right-sided pairing of Je-Vaughn Watson and Kellyn Acosta, who both like to get forward. Counterattacks down the United left could be pivotal, but the Black and Red don't attack much down that side. In the end, I think it's 2-1 Dallas.
This is a perfect chance for DC to show its fans that they're for real...while my gut says we're going to win, I think we keep the unbeaten streak alive via a draw, 2-2. Still, against the top team in MLS to this point, that's a win and lets everyone know that this ain't your 2013 DC United team.
Adam M Taylor
I'm notoriously optimistic, until there's reason not to be, so I'll err on the side of unicorns and say the Black-and-Red win 2-1. It's hard to see Dallas staying off the board, but our midfield narrowness seems custom-made to slow down Mauro Diaz, and karma owes us a couple points from last week in Columbus. First half goals from Arnaud and DeLeon are enough to hold off the visitors' late push and a Blas Perez tally.
I fear that a strong Dallas team will prove too much for our beloved troops. Therefore I predict a comprehensive 2-0 victory for Dallas behind a strong performance from Mauro Diaz. Hope I'm wrong.