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Know the Enemy -FC Dallas

MLS: FC Dallas at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps have a double-match week, starting with a trip down to Frisco Texas to take on FC Dallas. Dallas are currently fourth in the West with 25 points (seven wins, six losses, and four draws) while Vancouver are 10th with 19 points (four wins, six losses, and seven draws).

The Vancouver Whitecaps have been in good(ish) form of late having not lost in their last five matches. However, those five matches have included four draws and only one win. In addition, two of those draws (TFC and Colorado) had to be seen as disappointing outcomes. Nevertheless, Vancouver are undefeated in their last three on the road, so they could surprise in Dallas.

Meanwhile, Dallas has had an up and down season. They were winless in May, with four losses and only one draw, but have rebounded in June posting two wins and a draw in their three matches this month.

Both clubs are without key players, thanks to the Gold Cup and African Cup of Nations. The Whitecaps are missing keeper Maxime Crépeau, central defenders Derek Cornelius and Doneil Henry, midfielder Russell Teibert, and winger Lass Bangoura. Meanwhile, FC Dallas is missing Carlos Gruezo (M), Bryan Acosta (M), Reggie Cannon (D). With the travel and packed schedule the next two weeks (four road matches), it is likely that Vancouver will feel the losses more than Dallas.

Marc Dos Santos is likely to play a 4-3-3, given the lack of players, however, it is possible that he goes with 5-3-2, with rookie Brendan McDonough getting an opportunity in a center back three. More likely though is that Rose fills in for Henry and we see a traditional formation.

Dallas’ formation will be familiar to Caps fans as they are likely to go with a 4-2-3-1, with Jesus Feareira slotting up top and newcomer Dominique Badji and highly underrated Michael Barrios on the wings.

Preparing for this match, we spoke with Big D Soccer’s Drew Epperley about this return match. Here were our three questions and his response. You can find our answers to their questions here.

1. Dallas is a perennial powerhouse in the Western Conference. They are having a bit of a ‘down’ year but are still sitting 4th in the West. What has led to Dallas’ consistency over the years?

I’m not entirely sure I would call FC Dallas a perennial powerhouse but they’ve certainly looked the parts at times over the years. I’d be shocked if many Dallas fans would even think that. Ha

The consistency is really down to the ownership in my mind though, they don’t make a lot of sweeping changes at any point in time and while that has driven fans nuts over the years it has led to where we’re at, which is a very youth-led team that is starting to figure things out in MLS. Luchi Gonzalez is also learning the ropes as a first-year manager and is starting to really figure things out too. He made it through a tough stretch in May, where his team was banged up and missing a lot of players to international duty too.

2. Dallas recently lost four of five but have two wins and a draw in their last three. What has led to recent success? Which is the more ‘accurate’ Dallas team this season? The losers of four of five or the three games undefeated?

The May stretch was rough due to what I mentioned above with injuries and call-ups. They didn’t look totally bad during that stretch either and were a little unfortunate at times too. But losses still add up and they had to overcome it, which they have in June. I think the big turnaround is getting most of the roster healthy again, along with having some of those key players return from international duty. The team gambled in a way letting as many players go out on international duty as they did and now they’re starting to reap the benefits of their higher level of play on the international scene. This past weekend against Toronto felt like what this club could really look like the rest of the way through the season but we know this is a marathon and anything can happen, especially in the summer transfer window when players might get sold.

3. Dallas traded in Urruti for Badji. How has that change worked out for Dallas?

Technically Badji came in for Kellyn Acosta last year from Colorado. But if we’re going player-for-player here I’ll play along. Comparing Badji and Urruti is in a way comparing an apple and an orange. While they’re both attacking players, they each bring totally different aspects to the field. Badji is good at stretching a defense and providing some athletic vertical play on set pieces. He’s also a pretty clinical finisher in and around the penalty box. Urruti, on the other hand, is a guy that will give you a ridiculous work rate for 90 minutes. He’ll pressure defenses and be a constant thorn in their side while also creating chances on goal. Overall, it has taken some time for Badji to get accustomed to Dallas and his new team but he’s really settled in well this season and is producing nicely with four goals.

Those are our thoughts, and Big D Soccer’s. Let us know your expectations for this match in the comments.