Friday, October 21, 2011
FC Dallas visits San Jose for regular-season finale
After being eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League play, FC Dallas looks to regroup as it still has a chance to finish in the top three of the Western Conference.
Dallas goes for its third consecutive league victory when it visits the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night in the MLS regular-season finale.
Dallas (15-11-7) failed to earn a spot in the Champions League quarterfinals after losing 3-0 at home to Toronto FC on Tuesday, a particularly discouraging finish considering it won its first two group stage games on the road.
"It's disappointing, very disappointing," defender Ugo Ihemelu said. "Play all these extra games, get so close to advancing and just have a complete letdown in the final game. It could have been historic. It could have been something really good for the club, so that's really disappointing."
Dallas cannot afford to let the loss linger. It's tied with Real Salt Lake for third place in the Western Conference with 52 points. RSL, which hosts Portland on Saturday, owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series.
Dallas is trying to avoid finishing as one of the league's four wild-card teams, which would require it to play a play-in game.
Prior to being shut out against Toronto, Dallas recorded two goals apiece in its previous two league wins. Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea scored in a 2-0 victory over visiting Vancouver last Saturday.
Shea's goal was his team-leading 11th, but first in seven games.
"It isn't easy playing so many games, but you just keep trying to work hard and improve in each one," Shea told Dallas' official website. "I started the year off well and hit a rough patch, but hopefully that's behind me now."
Shea might not find it as easy to get opportunities against San Jose (7-12-14) if midfielder Ricardo Villar can't play. Villar left the loss to Toronto with a foot injury, and it's unclear if he'll be able to play Saturday.
Daniel Cruz, who came on for Villar, would likely start in his place.
After facing the team with the worst record in the West last weekend, Dallas will take on the club just above the Whitecaps.
The Earthquakes are 1-2-3 in their last six, with five of those games coming on the road. After winning 2-1 at New England on Oct. 8, they fell 2-1 at Seattle last Saturday.
Jon Busch gave up two goals in the final eight minutes after Chris Wondolowski scored midway through the first half -- his 15th goal of the season.
Wondolowski, last season's Golden Boot winner, trails D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario by one goal for the league lead. Wondolowski has five in the last four games, accounting for all of San Jose's scoring.
"Goal scorers go through hot spells and cold spells," Wondolowski told the Earthquakes' official website. "I'm on a hot one right now."
Wondolowski also had both goals in a 2-0 win over Dallas on March 26. Shea did not play because of a red-card suspension.
Dallas is 2-3-8 in its last 13 matches against San Jose.