With offense on the uptick for both the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, the team that can put together a strong defensive showing may have the advantage at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday.
The Crew (12-8-7, 43 points) have scored 11 goals during a 4-1-1 run since July 21 to maintain fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
“Defensively we can do much better,” Dallas FC defender Reto Ziegler said of gearing up to slow the Columbus attack. “We are training a lot on the defensive side. We have now almost two weeks to prepare on this game against Columbus, so we did a lot of tactics which I think will help us on Saturday.”
Dallas (14-6-7, 49 points) sits atop the Western Conference by a point over Sporting Kansas City. FCD has scored seven goals in the past two matches. Three of those goals have been by Santiago Mosquera.
Columbus and Dallas have been idle since Sept. 1, but the Crew during the break had goalkeeper Zack Steffen, midfielder Wil Trapp and forward Gyasi Zardes playing matches for the U.S. versus Brazil on Sept. 7 and Mexico on Tuesday.
Steffen and Trapp went the distance in both; Zardes was a late substitute in the first match and went 80 minutes in the 1-0 victory over Mexico. Also, midfielder Cristian Martinez played the full match in Panama’s 2-0 loss to Venezuela on Tuesday.
Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said all four could be available against Dallas. Of as much concern is the schedule that includes playing Wednesday at Portland and home to Colorado on Sept. 22.
“We’re going to need everyone,” Crew defender Jonathan Mensah said. “Whoever steps in is going to do the same job, so we just have to be ready. Be ready so whenever you get the opportunity you go out there and help the team.”
—Field Level Media