Happy holiday! Chivas USA will be celebrating this evening by playing FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas (6 pm PT, MLS Live). The Goats are coming off their best league performance since April, when they drew the New England Revolution 1-1, while FCD had a dramatic draw last weekend against the Philadelphia Union. Both teams may be coming off ties, but that's where the similarities largely end, as Dallas have been one of the top teams all season, and Chivas...have not.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions feature with Big D Soccer from earlier today.
In the meantime, let's preview the match:
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 12 points (3-10-3), 9th in Western Conference, 18th place overall; Goal Difference: -16 (15/31); Last five matches: D-L-L-L-L
FC Dallas: 30 points (8-3-6), 2nd in Western Conference, 4th place overall; Goal Difference: 5 (27/22); Last five matches: D-D-L-D-W
Key match-up: Chivas stamina vs. Dallas stamina
It's likely going to be pretty hot in Texas for this match. Although it will be played in the evening, if oven levels are reached, the advantage almost always goes to the home team, who are used to it. Chivas USA, playing in a temperate climate, will not be used to extreme heat, so again, if it is hot (it's currently in the 90s) Dallas will have a pretty significant advantage.
Beyond just the heat, though, one of the hallmarks of Dallas' season has been sticking out a game for the full 90 minutes. The last game, when Blas Perez scored well into second half stoppage time to give Dallas the road draw, was probably the most dramatic, but this team has had several games come down to the final minutes this season, and they've frequently been able to get the necessary goal at the end. While Chivas had that magic once this year, in the first meeting with the Galaxy, their issue has been more that they've slackened over the course of a game, and last week's game, where they gave away the three points in the final minutes, demonstrates the work they need to do to maintain mental and physical focus from whistle to whistle. If Chivas can match Dallas in stamina, they have a decent shot in this game. If they lose that battle, however, another loss is imminent.
Why Chivas will win this match: Well, they did it last time out, getting their first win of the season far earlier, and by a more convincing scoreline, than I think most folks figured. In that game, Chelís' unorthodox formation and tactics flummoxed Dallas, especially in the second half, and they collapsed. With Chelís' system getting figured out in the meantime, and with a completely different system in place under Jose Luis Real, I think the element of surprise is gone from the Goats' repertoire this time around, but that doesn't mean that Chivas can't get a win. A win on the road would seem to be a tougher task, but the team has improved each and every game they've played to this point under Real, and after getting the draw last time out, they could have enough confidence to really push for a win. It's certainly not assured, but that improvement, coupled with the possible absence of defenders George John and Walker Zimmerman (and possibly both of them), if Chivas can figure out a way to get their act together on the attacking end, they can certainly take some chances and finally pick up three points.
Why Dallas will win this match: Well, it's at home, on a day when the team traditionally hosts a game, so they'll be fired up for this one. They've also likely got revenge on their minds, since the loss to Chivas is frankly one of the biggest blights on their season resume to this point. Chivas once again have a new coach still getting accustomed to MLS at the helm, and Dallas have a plethora of options to score: set pieces, speed, playing the ball on the ground, playing the long ball. So if Chivas can neutralize them in one area, FCD just has to move to a new approach to see if they can break the Goats down. And although Chivas have looked better defensively in recent weeks, Dallas have a variety of crafty attacking options on the field, and it's going to be hard for Chivas to juggle all of the defensive responsibilities. As with all Chivas' games, the opponent is clearly favored, but with it being a midweek game in the middle of the summer, the winner cannot be predicted for certain.
Why this game will end in a draw: See above. Chivas are tied with a bunch of teams for fewest number of draws in the league, but again, they tend to happen quite a bit in midweek clashes. Add to that Chivas' improvement, albeit gradual, and a road draw would arguably be another step in a positive progression. And with Chivas still figuring out the central midfield, and with Dallas figuring out their defensive lineup for this match, there could be some sloppiness and the game could end in a stalemate. Certainly, we'll see.
Chivas: Tristan Bowen (yellow card suspension), Steve Purdy (international duty), Daniel Antunez (knee), Tim Melia (back), Oswaldo Minda (adductor), Edgar Mejia (ankle - listed as questionable), Martin Ponce (hamstring - listed as questionable)
Dallas: Je-Vaughn Watson (red card suspension), George John (hamstring - listed as questionable), Walker Zimmerman (hamstring - listed as questionable)