By: Rees Linn
FC Dallas will try to extend their home winning streak to seven straight matches this Thursday at Pizza Hut Park against a New York Red Bulls club that is coming off of an impressive 3-1 victory over Colorado.
The Red Bulls sit in 2nd place in the East, and enjoy a massive 12 point lead in the standings over 3rd place Toronto. The huge difference between the two clubs virtually guarantees New York a playoff spot, as well as a chance to build more chemistry between their myriad of new faces, including Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez, and Mehdi Ballouchy.[picappgallerysingle id=”8575158″]
New York will be without the services of Luke Sassano, Brian Nielsen, and Jeremy Hall due to injury, but the club did receive a boost when it was announced Tuesday that Rafael Marquez should be ready to play against Dallas.
Dallas also received good news on the injury front this week, as George John, Dax McCarty, Milton Rodriguez, and Jackson were all declared available for first team duty. The only glaring omission is Ugo Ihemelu, who is still recovering from a concussion received against Philadelphia on August 8th.
In their last meeting, New York pulled off a 2-1 win over Dallas on April 17th. Few may have guessed that when the two clubs met again in September, the match would have potentially serious implications in the race for the Supporter’s Shield and MLS Cup. A win would put Dallas level on points with Real Salt Lake for second place in the West, and a New York victory would leave the Red Bulls only one point behind the Eastern leaders, Columbus. The encounter puts the league’s best strike partnership, Thierry Henry and Juan Pablo Angel, against a Dallas backline that has earned shutouts in each of their last four matches.
Despite New York’s dominance over Colorado in the center of midfield last weekend, Dallas should be able to limit the effectiveness of Tony Tchani and Rafael Marquez by employing their typical ultra-defensive 4-5-1 formation. Jair Benitez has been playing well at left back for Dallas, but he’ll have his hands full against Dane Richards who has been fantastic for New York over the past few weeks. The speedy winger has scored in each of his last two matches.
If Dallas expects to have any attacking success Thursday night, it has to come in the way of creative play from David Ferreira in the middle, and strong performances from Brek Shea on the left and either Attiba Harris or Marvin Chavez on the right. Shea hasn’t looked very sharp in his last two matches, but he should have an edge against the aging Chris Albright. Dallas has struggled with the striker position all year, and whether Jeff Cunningham or Milton Rodriguez gets the nod up top, things won’t be any easier against New York center back Tim Ream. It certainly won’t be cake walk for Dallas, but the fans won’t expect anything less than a victory at Pizza Hut Park on Thursday.