Match Preview: FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids
With Andre Shinyashiki labeling last Saturday’s 4-1 home defeat at the hands of Real Salt Lake as ‘embarrassing’, we can expect a strong response from the Rapids when they face FC Dallas inside Toyota Stadium on Wednesday night, writes Richard Fleming.
An aggressive tactical switch by Robin Fraser, in going to a three-man back line when 2-1 down did not - on this occasion - work out. Instead, RSL exploited the space and ran out comfortable winners, which means the Rapids have given up 11 goals in a run of four winless games.
Tactical gamble aside, defensively the Rapids will need to tighten up if they are to turn things around, starting with a midweek meeting with FC Dallas.
For Dallas, the issue has been at the other end. Having been withdrawn from the MLS Is Back Tournament due to positive COVID tests, their first game after the enforced break came as recently as August 12, when they lost 1-0 at home to Nashville SC - the other team turfed out of Orlando.
They have followed this loss with two goalless draws, against Nashville at home and then at Houston Dynamo.
Led by former Rapids forward, Luchi Gonzalez, this Wednesday’s opponents will be playing their fourth game in two weeks, so may be a little sharper.
They have a disciplined, experienced defensive wall, which includes Reto Ziegler and Matt Hedges. On Friday, Hedges made his 248th appearance for Dallas, the most of any player in club history. Switzerland international Ziegler has played at some of Europe’s top clubs, such as Tottenham Hotspur, Sampdoria, and Fenerbahçe, and is a veteran of two FIFA World Cups.
Add to that speed and trickery in the form of Michael Barrios and Honduras international Bryan Acosta, as well as a plethora of homegrown talent, and you have a side arguably yet to hit their stride.
A notable homegrown talent for Dallas is US international right-back Reggie Cannon, who was the subject of recent speculation linking him with a move to English Championship club Barnsley.
For the Rapids, an opportunity to put the RSL disappointment behind them. With three games in a week (the Rapids are home to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday), expect changes for this Wednesday’s encounter. Kei Kamara could make his 350th MLS appearance, while they will be hoping Nicolas Benezet has recovered from his lower body injury and is ready to be considered.
Younes Namli was a bright spark on Saturday in a Rapids side which - certainly in the first half - appeared comfortable while lacking a cutting edge. Despite how composed and unruffled they seemed in the opening exchanges, over 90 minutes they managed just two shots on target - the fewest in the Fraser era.
In this stop-start season, teams will need a few games to get their legs underneath them, and we must hope for the Rapids that is sooner rather than later. Robin Fraser took over as head coach a year ago this week, and this is the roughest run this team has been on during his tenure. Wednesday is a new day, a new game, and a new opponent. Storms are forecast in the Frisco area, but here’s hoping the Rapids are able to weather whatever is thrown at them in the Lone Star State.
Join myself and Marcelo Balboa from 6:00pm this Wednesday, with coverage of FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids on Altitude and AltitudeNOW.