July 20, 2012
TIMBERS VISIT DALLAS
Portland, FCD desperate for victory
If ever two teams deserved one another, its tonight’s matchup of the Portland Timbers visiting FC Dallas, 8 p.m. (CT.). Both squads litter the bottom of the Western Conference, tied for eighth place with 19 points. Both teams are coming into the game after losing their last match. FCD lost 2-1 Wednesday at San Jose in a visit to the first-place squad in the conference. Portland stopped off in Los Angeles on-route to Dallas and lost to the Galaxy 1-0 on Wednesday, the team’s third straight loss.
|Dallas' Carlos Rodriguez has stepped up as an important player for Dallas this season in the wake of so many injuries suffered by FCD.
photo by Mike Stephens
The Red and White, however, had a modest positive streak of one win and three draws working before losing to the Earthquakes. Dallas (4-10-7) should also get a boost on a homecoming after three straight games on the road. San Jose (5-10-4) is in the midst of a three-game road trip.
What is not really improving, however, is Dallas’ injury situation. The biggest hindrance to any success hoped for by FCD has been its horrendous casualty rate among its players. 20 games into the season, FCD has lost the use of 14 key players for a total of 92 matches due to injury: Ferreira (17), Villar (12), Warshaw (12), Ihemelu (11), Sealy (6), Castillo (5), Rodriguez (4), John (6), Perez (6), Pertuz (3), Benitez (3), Hartman (3), Jacobson (2) and Shea (2).
Ferreira is finally back, three games ago, after missing more than 14 months. But his steady progress is undermined by the continued missing-in-action status of key players Ugo Ihemelu (captain), George John (both defensive players out to concussion symptoms, and Blas Perez, FCD’s leading scorer, out with a foot sprain. Also out are midfielder Bobby Warshaw and defender Alex Lee.
These players have been out so long that the team has worked to find chemistry among those left and were showing progress prior to the loss in San Jose.
The visit to the West was nearly a success, with a win in Colorado on July 14. Dallas was so very close to securing another point at the end of its game in San Jose. Despite trailing 2-0 from giving up two first-half goals, the Hoops rallied the last two minutes of the game. Defender Jair Benitez stepped up to take a penalty kick in stoppage time and struck it over the bar, blowing at chance to extend its modest streak of four games without a loss, to five.
The showdown with Portland tonight will be another “last-chance” scenario to get back in the hunt for a playoff berth, for both teams. There should be more pressure on Dallas to get the job done, since it is the hosting team.
Another “X” factor will be the status of Brek Shea. The likeable South Texan left the field in the second half of last Saturday’s game visibly irritated over Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman’s decision to pull him out. Sharp words were exchanged and Shea went over to the far end of the bench, away from other players and pouted with a towel over his head.
When Portland and FCD take the field tonight, everyone will be looking to see if Shea will be in the starting lineup, or even in the game roster. Dallas will also be missing the explosive speed of Fabian Castillo, who must sit this game due to an accumulation of yellow cards.