The Whitecaps are looking to ride the momentum from their 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquake on Wednesday, but they've got a tough test in 4th place FC Dallas. Brian Wachholz from our SBNation sister blog Big D Soccer drops by to give us some insight into the opponent, including the emerging Fabian Castillo, the last two matches for FC Dallas, and their dominance over the Vancouver Whitecaps since the 'Caps joined MLS in 2011.
Brian Wachholz: I see it as a blip. FC Dallas has one of the toughest schedules of any club to close out this season, but the team is committed and appears to be working hard every week. Any team can lose to RSL in Sandy, and Chicago is an old rival with a history of unpredictable matches. Besides, one mistake is all it took for Chicago to win that game late. The game was heading for a respectable draw on the road for FCD... before that fatal misstep.
FC Dallas has hung tough this year. This was a season in which we thought we needed to temper expectations as Oscar slides into the captain's chair and begins to mold the players to his vision. The team has punched well above their weight, and the players deserve credit for taking to OP's changes so quickly. OP deserves credit for taking risks and making smart personnel decisions.
86F: Looks like Fabian Castillo has taken a major leap forward in his 4th MLS season. What's changed about his game?
BW: Like any young player, some of it comes naturally as every year builds his experience and maturity. But to your point, Fabian is playing significantly better with his teammates than in seasons past. It probably helps that someone like Andres Escobar joined the team - a player that Castillo knows from growing up with the game in Colombia. Additionally, I think Oscar Pareja sent a major jolt into Fabian that no other coach could.
Here is a guy who played for Colombia in the World Cup, a guy who specializes in youth players, and a guy who took Fabian into his house to help adjust to a new league in a new country with a new language. That relationship is key to unlocking Fabian's full potential in MLS, and OP leading FCD will boost Castillo into giving reaching his peak performance.
86F: Dallas has pretty much owned Vancouver since the 'Caps joined the league in 2011 (6-1-2 record for D). What's going on there?
BW: Dallas likes to beat up on expansion teams. FCD had a similarly lopsided record against RSL for a long time. Unlike Seattle who has raced out of the gate upon joining MLS, fueled by money and rabid fans. Vancouver is taking a slower path to fully mature. FC Dallas has conservative owners who don't chase the shiny, high dollar acquisitions. So when the team isn't able to compete with the big boys, they take a special interest in beating up the newcomers and taking points from the vulnerable teams while they can.
When Vancouver has been in MLS for 19 years like FC Dallas, their relative standing compared to 2014 FCD will all depend on ownership and intelligent growth. VWFC has a long history, but many recent years were spent in the dark unstable basement of the US/Canadian soccer pyramid. Vancouver will catch up, but FC Dallas will give them their lumps in the meantime.
Match Prediction? FC Dallas bounces back from 2 road losses to regain a step in the points race. FCD wins 2-0