Pre-Game: @ FC Dallas

by Brendan Wyatt

The Rapids are in Dallas tonight to take on a team that this journalist sees as a real rival.  Not one made up by sponsors, the league, or even supporters groups. This is a rivalry that has cultivated over time; the first game the Rapids ever played was against the Dallas Burn, aka FC Dallas.  The Cup final in 2010, many of us won’t forget that was against Dallas.  The last time the Rapids were not offensively inept? Well that was when Oscar was coach, and ran Pablo out as he faded away to the bench. Then last year the incident with Dillon Serna; yeah, the fans never forget.   Overall the Rapids are 22-31-14 against FCD, but only have won 8 of those 22 in Dallas.

That last stat does not help the fact that the team this year has yet to win a flippin game on the road.  Let’s not spend too much time talking about the fact that out of the 14 games left, 8 of them are not at home.   Could we also go as far as to say that unlike the reports from the club that still say they are reaching for the playoffs, the fans just want to see the team not give up.  After all MLS rewards teams for poor performances and mediocracy by giving us target allocation money and a high pick in the draft the following season.

Dallas has lost their last two games; with a 6-2-3 record at home FCD can be beat.  Remember when the burgundy boys, led by Claudio Lopez (while Pablo was suspended) went to the lone star state and dropped 4 goals on FCD? It can be done again with this roster; despite the lack of moves in both transfer windows.  If the players are like the fans and feel it’s the time to put everything on the line, we might be lucky enough to see 90 minutes without the team turtling into defensive mode.

Still no Stefan Aigner, we can only hope he makes his debut at home next week.  Luis Gil, the clubs last minute transaction from Orlando will be joining the team in Dallas, but it is unlikely that he will get minutes as he has yet to train with the guys.  In a way, the club will be without both summer transfers for this game, minus Dillon Powers as he was the one sent to OCSC in exchange for Gil.

From what I saw at training this week was that the lineup tonight will be the same one that dropped 2 points to Vancouver last week.  Yes, that means you shouldn’t get too bent when you see Mike DaFonte on the back line.  Nana Boateng will be on the bench, which means the creativity and accurate passing will have to wait until the 80th minute; and even though he may be “one of the best right backs in the league” Marly will be lining up in the midfield.

I have seen things from training have a positive effect in games, but they have been for individuals in moments of brilliance, but as a team, not so much.  This week though, they were truly focused on moving the ball forward.  So much so that if you passed the ball back when there were other options to move it forward, a whistle would blow and you would get called out.  There was also some focus on the offside trap, and moving the ball through the back four to feed the forwards.  Things I’ve not seen this team work on in years.

On paper and in the eyes of the so many the Rapids don’t look to fare well in this game tonight, but as Coach Pablo has said over and over again there is no stat for heart.  Time to play with heart, let your talents take care of the rest, what else do we have to lose?

The Southside Kitchen & Bar will be hosting the official viewing party for this one and don’t forget kickoff is at 6pm.  If you can’t make to downtown, then hit up your favorite spot.

Predicted starting XI: Howard, Miller, Watts, Sjoberg, DaFonte, Hairston, Azira, Saied, Gashi, Doyle, Badji.

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