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Week 34: A look ahead to FC Dallas

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Can we end the season on a high note?

MLS: Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas is coming to town, and with them comes a lot of history with the Colorado Rapids. This year alone we traded our leading goalscorer, Dominique Badji, for Kellyn Acosta, a player who basically lived and bled pure Dallas. This doesn’t even account for Oscar Pareja leaving the Rapids high and dry to go coach for Dallas in 2014, or Dillon Serna’s season-ending injury in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup match.

Beyond that, their academy is miles ahead of pretty much every other MLS system. FCD’s current roster has an astonishing 10 homegrown players (and that’s obviously without Acosta, who was a star for Dallas’s academy). In turn, we are starting to look to build our homegrown roster and academy signings as we’ve seen Dillon Serna, Kortne Ford, Cole Bassett, and Sam Vines all making appearances in the 18 in the last few games. I could see us really start gunning for Dallas and try to dethrone them as the team to bear the flag of the Western Conference’s MLS champions.

Dallas is reliable for playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Building out of the back, their goalkeeper is Jesse Gonzalez, who at one time was getting looks from the U.S. Men’s National Team. From left to right is Marquinhos Pedroso, Reto Ziegler, Matt Hedges, and Reggie Cannon or Ryan Hollingshead. Gonzalez and Reggie Cannon are both homegrown players who have made a powerful case for being starters for the team. Their defensive midfielder pairing is Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo. Victor Ulloa is yet again another homegrown player, while Gruezo is a DP, formerly of VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga.

Offensive midfielders are Santiago Mosquera, Maximiliano Urruti, and Michael Barrios. Santiago Mosquera is another DP, coming from Millonarios F.C. in the Columbian Categoria Primera A. In the striker position should be either DP Cristian Colman, a striker from Club Nacional in Paraguay, or former Rapids striker Dom Badji. While Badji hasn’t managed to quite prove himself as a reliable starter, he has been getting more and more minutes and has contributed two goals.

Their greatest threat currently is Urruti, with 7 goals and 11 assists. The rest of the team has a mix of goals and assists, but no one is approaching double digits. It will be nice to get a break from the last several teams we’ve played with multiple players with 10 goals or more. Notably absent from the Starting XI for Dallas recently has been the Belgian player Roland Lamah. With 8 goals and 5 assists, he would be a strong threat on the Dallas front line, but he has been dealing with injuries which have prevented him from playing.

Overall, Dallas has a similar feel to the 2016 Rapids season. They haven’t necessarily been an offensive powerhouse, with only 51 goals for (fourth fewest goals for any team currently in the playoffs). That pales in comparison to some of the other teams in the league like Atlanta or LAFC, with 69 and 67 goals each. However, their strength still lies in their defense, with only 42 goals against. Not the greatest in the league, but still respectable. With a largely homegrown and academy roster in the back five, they have managed to play an impressive defense given a lack of international players or TAM-level contracts.

With the season ending, Dallas wants all three points. Given the right circumstances, they could earn the top spot in the Western Conference (if SKC and LAFC lose). We, on the other hand, aren’t worried about the Wooden Spoon and aren’t playing for anything tangible. But, as we saw evidence of last week, we can start playing more of our youth and homegrown players. With four homegrowns on the field at the same time last week, I’d love to see us actually start four homegrowns next week. Plus, I’d expect to see Acosta play with a bit of a fire in him, since I’m sure he’ll want to prove himself against his former teammates and friends.

I know this season has been a huge disappointment, but despite all this, I’m still looking forward to this game a lot. One last chance to see friends and supporters at the tailgate, one last chance to see certain players on the field, and one last chance to show the fans how much we are appreciated. With all that being said, what are your thoughts as we close out the season?