FC Dallas will look for its first win since April 14 when the Philadelphia Union visit FC Dallas Stadium on Saturday night. Here are five things to consider heading into that match.
Shea starts his suspension -- Saturday’s match will mark the first of the three games Brek Shea will miss after deliberately kicking a ball at an official during a loss at Columbus last Saturday. It was a dumb play from an obviously frustrated player, which might be partly due to the turf toe that has been nagging. But then again, it could be because there is a growing frustration in the room over a three-game losing streak and not winning in over a month. No matter the reason, Shea now gets a three-game timeout to think about what he did at a time his club really needs him the most.
Who’s in for Loyd? -- However, Shea won’t be the only starter sitting this one out for FCD. Right back Zach Loyd, who is the only Dallas player to start every game and play every minute so far this season, a streak that will end on Saturday, was ejected in the second half of the loss to the Crew. Sure, the call was iffy at best, but it is what it is. Now Dallas gaffer Schellas Hyndman will have to figure out who spells Loyd there. If Carlos Rodriguez is healthy, it could very well be him. Were captain Ugo Ihemelu not out with concussion symptoms, he would be a possibility there, but he continues to have symptoms, so who knows when he returns? Rodriguez appears to be the logical choice but it wouldn’t be a shocker to see Hernan Pertuz in at right back, that is unless Hyndman puts him at center back alongside George John, a spot that could also go to rookie Matt Hedges, the club’s top pick in the 2012 MLS Super Draft.
What can go wrong next? -- Not to be Mr. Glass Half Empty, but considering how many injuries, suspensions and red cards this team has had already this year, one has to wonder what could unfold for FCD against the Union? It’s a viable question considering the absolute rollercoaster this team has been on for the first 12 games. However, on the flipside, the Union are a team that is also struggling, which could make this an ideal time not just for FCD to return to the win column, but also to right the ship or at least take a step in the right direction. But if somehow or someway Dallas falls to Philly, it’s not a great way to start a rough stretch, that will also see them play at Chicago and Real Salt Lake.
Who will step up? -- If there has been one truly disconcerting thing about this current bad run of form for FCD, it’s that even with so much upheaval in the first 11, there really hasn’t been anyone to step up and refuse to accept anything less than a win for their club. Backup goalkeeper Chris Seitz fared well in his three-game relief stint while starter Kevin Hartman was out with back spasms, but other than that, who has really stepped up for this team? Blas Perez has been great but that was expected. Great teams or good teams for that matter are clubs where even if the best players are out, there are others who step up and answer the bell. There has been little of that going on in the first 12 games, which could signal a greater problem for FCD going forward.
Start of another tough stretch -- At long last, there is finally some rest on the horizon for FCD. However, the problem is that rest won’t come until after Dallas finishes a three games in a week stretch to finish out its May schedule. That tough slate begins Saturday night against Philadelphia. Then, FCD will play yet another midweek game at Chicago on Wednesday and won’t return home until after the gauntlet ends next Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium against Real Salt Lake. This stretch will mark the third time this season that FCD has played three games in a short period of time and will be the final three of their six matches in the month of May. But for a club that hasn’t won since April 14 and who will be without Shea for the next three games after he was suspended, this stretch definitely has the look of the Bataan Death March more than anything. However, if FCD could get through this with a win, even two or maybe even a draw or two, it would give them some much-needed momentum heading into June.