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Match Preview: Frisco Bound!

FC Dallas dominated Toronto FC 3-0 at home on Saturday, might the Whitecaps face a similar fate when they travel deep into the heart of Texas mid-week?

MLS: Toronto FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

To start off a double match-week, and a series of four matches over the next two weeks, the Vancouver Whitecaps travel to Texas for a midweek clash with FC Dallas on Wednesday night. While the Whitecaps are looking to gain momentum after a disappointing 2-2 home draw with Colorado, FC Dallas is red-hot, not only having trounced Toronto FC by a score of 3-0 on Saturday, but also finding themselves undefeated in their past three matches.

Match Information

When: Wednesday June 26th, 6:00 PM (PT)

Where: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

How: TSN 1/3, TSN 1040 (Radio), ESPN +

Who’s Available?

While the Whitecaps undoubtedly face the larger list of absences amongst the two teams, FC Dallas is also feeling the strain of international competition. Notably, US international right back Reggie Cannon has appeared in 15 of Dallas’ 17 matches this season, but will not feature in Frisco on Wednesday night as he and his country will be busy playing Panama in Kansas City.

Vancouver Whitecaps:

Out: D - Jasser Khmiri (left knee injury), M - David Norman Jr. (right foot injury), F - Joaquin Ardaiz (left hamstring strain), GK - Thomas Hasal (left shoulder sprain)

International Duty: D - Doneil Henry, D - Derek Cornelius, M - Russel Teibert, GK - Maxime Crepeau (Gold Cup), Lass Bangoura (African CON)

FC Dallas:

Out: D - John Nelson (abdominal strain)

International Duty: M - Carlos Gruezo (Copa America), M - Bryan Acosta, D - Reggie Cannon (Gold Cup)

Who’s Worth Watching?

If FC Dallas’ match against Toronto is any indication, the names worth watching on Wednesday might be slightly different than what one would normally expect from the Texas side, it seems clear now that the youth movement is in full swing in Frisco. Three FC Dallas players featured in the Week 16 “Team of the Week”, and two of these contributors were under 20 years of age.

Perhaps the most recognizable name of the three was Jesus Ferreira. The 18-year-old Colombian standout is the youngest player ever to sign with FC Dallas, and is the son of former MLS MVP David Ferreira. Saturday against Toronto, Ferreira recorded four key passes, two assists, and three shots on goal. So far this season, Ferreira has made 16 appearances, with 4 goals and 4 assists to his name.

The 2nd Team of the Week member was US Under-20 international Paxton Pomykal. Although Pomykal has only just started to find regular minutes in the starting XI this season, the midfielder recently captained his national team at the Under-20 World Cup, was perhaps the squad’s most important player at the tournament and helped lead his country to the quarterfinals, where they eventually fell to France. Saturday against Toronto, Pomykal made his impact felt at the MLS level, recording one assist, six recoveries, and 65 successful passes for FC Dallas.

The 3rd and final FC Dallas Team of the Week member from Week 16 was Brazilian defender Bressan. Although Bressan struggled to find minutes early in the season, he has started every match since May 16th, going the full 90 minutes in each of those matches. Bressan also displayed his versatility on Saturday against TFC by starting at right-back in place of the aforementioned Reggie Cannon. In the match, Bressan not only scored the crucial 2-0 marker in the 51st minute, but also made 3 key passes and had 3 shots (2 of which found the target, with the other hitting the woodwork).

While Bressan isn’t a young prospect like the other two impact performers (he’s 26), he’s certainly a testament to Dallas’ impressive squad depth. The story of how Bressan came to sign with FC Dallas late in 2018 after 5 seasons and over 100 top-flight matches for Gremio in Brazil is rather amusing, but also rather unfortunate:

“In Leg Two of his club’s Copa Libertadores semi-final meeting with River Plate earlier this year, Bressan was called for a handball in the box in the 95th minute with Grêmio holding a 2-1 aggregate lead in the series. River Plate would convert the ensuing PK and advance from the 2-2 series deadlock on away goals. Ostracized in his own city after the match, FC Dallas came calling at just the right time to sign the Brazilian team’s second-leading defender in minutes played that season” (courtesy of Carter Baum at fcdallas.com).

Finally, and not to be forgotten, former Colorado Rapid and current FC Dallas frontman Dominque Badji had (the other) two goals against Toronto on the weekend, and is now tied for the team lead in goals with four. The Senegalese striker now looks well on his way to matching (if not eclipsing) his career high of nine goals which he set with the Rapids in 2017.

Who’s Going to Win?

To make a long story short, if the Vancouver Whitecaps play as poorly defensively as they did against the Rapids, it could be a long night. The 3-0 scoreline in Frisco on Saturday night likely flattered visiting TFC and from what I saw in the match, the final score could have very easily been 5-0 or 6-0. FC Dallas had 12 shots on target and 22 total attempts in the match against TFC, and if Zac Macmath is still as uneasy as he looked in goal on the weekend, the Whitecaps simply can’t allow a similar volume of shots on target Wednesday. This might mean that the Whitecaps have to bunker in deep defensively for long stretches of the match, which won’t be pretty, but might be the best way to secure a result. Marc Dos Santos even hinted that his squad might try to employ such a strategy prior to the team’s departure at YVR Monday morning.

In slightly better news for the Whitecaps, FC Dallas has gone 5 matches without keeping a clean sheet, so there will certainly be opportunities to score in Frisco, the question is, can the Caps take advantage? The Whitecaps did win the only matchup between the two sides so far this season, claiming a 2-1 victory on May 25th at BC Place.

The match featured Ali Adnan’s incredible golazo, Theo Bair’s MLS debut and a Dominque Badji 85th minute goal which was a long time coming for the visiting side after they missed numerous chances to get themsleves back into the match earlier on. Although the Whitecaps walked away with three points at the end of the night, FC Dallas was the stronger team in almost every relevant statistic other than the final scoreline.

So, if I had to predict the result on Wednesday night in Frisco (which I do), then I’ll have to say that the Whitecaps will go down swinging, falling by a fulltime score of 4-2. I can imagine the Whitecaps going down a few goals early on and then being forced to open things up in an attempt to get themselves back in the match. Without Crepeau, Cornelius, Henry & Teibert in the squad, I’m not sure if the Whitecaps have what it takes defensively to bunker in and play for a low scoring result on the road (as suggested above), but it will be interesting to see how Marc Dos Santos actually decides to prepare his squad - and how things pan out come match-day.