FC Dallas and the Chicago Fire renew their Brimstone Cup rivalry on Wednesday night at Toyota Park. The Men in Red fell 2-1 at Portland on Sunday night while FCD has now gone seven straight without a win, the second-longest such streak in franchise history.
Here are some points to ponder heading into this game:
Is FCD Going Streaking or Not?---Clearly, the current seven-game winless streak is nothing for FC Dallas to celebrate. And considering that this team has yet to win on the road this season, it would surprise absolutely no one to see Dallas drop each of their next three matches, all of which are on the road, to equal the franchise-record winless streak of 10 straight set during 2005. However, on the flipside, if ever there was an opportunity for FCD to break through with their first win since April 14, it would have to be Wednesday night at Toyota Park, a venue Dallas has never lost at (5-0-1). But if FCD fails to come away with three points, then realistically the next time Dallas supporters can expect this team to win could be the late June visit by Chivas USA.
Return of the Zach Attack---Those who used to watch Saved by the Bell got that reference and everyone else, oh well. Getting Zach Loyd back on the right side of the defense will definitely be a big boost to the Dallas backline. With Hernan Pertuz out several weeks with an ankle injury, it will be interesting to see if Schellas Hyndman goes with rookie Matt Hedges or Carlos Rodriguez, who had a pretty rough game in his return in Saturday’s draw with Philly to say the least. Hyndman seems to really like what Hedges has done thus far, so one has to think Hedges gets the start in Bridgeview. But getting Loyd back, who before Saturday had been the only FCD player to start every game and play every minute this season, is huge for a group that occasional mental lapses aside has been a pretty solid group.
Can Leyva Follow it Up?---Bryan Leyva’s overall performance, especially on set pieces, in the 1-1 draw with the Union over the weekend ranked as one of the few bright spots in what had to be termed a disappointing turn of events for FCD. But with Fabian Castillo still listed as questionable on the injury report, any hopes Dallas fans had of seeing Leyva on one flank and Castillo on the other in Chicago might have been dashed. But Leyva is still a young pup and the usual knock on young players is inconsistency, so all eyes will be on the young homegrown talent to see if he can follow up a mostly solid performance on Saturday with one on an equal if not on a higher level . If Leyva can start stringing consistently solid performances together and can display some finishing skills, he could very well challenge Castillo for a starting spot.
Chicago’s Fire-power---No pun intended, but the Fire’s attack can be quite incendiary when it’s firing on all cylinders. Of course, ex-Dallas striker Dominic Oduro, who leads the team with four goals, leads the way but the Men in Red also feature the likes of Patrick Nyarko, Marco Pappa and Sebastian Grazzini, who leads Chicago with three assists. In short, the FCD defense has plenty of attacking players to concern themselves with, something that clearly wasn’t the case against the offensively deficient Union over the weekend. A mental lapse or even two by Dallas and they leave Toyota Park with their first-ever loss at the home of the Fire, it’s that simple. This club has too many offensive options to be forced to settle for a draw.
Brimstone’s New Home?---The Brimstone Cup has basically belonged to Dallas since 2001. But if ever there was a year when the supporters’ trophy headed back to the Windy City, this would have to be it. Chicago isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the Eastern Conference, but Frank Klopas’ club isn’t half bad on the home or on the road. And despite injuries, suspensions and questionable officiating, things just aren’t going well for FC Dallas through their first 13 games. Will that trend continue or will Wednesday’s match be the latest chapter in a recent run of disappointing results and tales of points not taken? One thing’s for sure, if FCD doesn’t hold onto the Brimstone Cup, then they might not have much in the way of trophies this season. The Pioneer Cup already went to Columbus, El Capitan looks like it most likely will stay in Houston and who knows about the Rio Grande Plate rivalry with Tigres UANL since there has been nary a mention of it by anyone on World Cup Way.