August 4, 2012
DALLAS IN ROAD TEST SUNDAY
Head west to visit Portland Timbers
Probably no team wants to play FC Dallas more this weekend than the Portland Timbers. The players in emerald green get their wish, hosting the Texas squad Sunday, 6 p.m. CT in one of the toughest road venues in the MLS, JELD-WEN Field.
|George John is returning to home territory, hoping to mark the visit by helping to lock down the Dallas defense against the Timbers.
photo by Mike Stephens
Revenge will be a driving motive after Dallas shred the Timbers 5-0 just a couple of weeks ago at FC Dallas Stadium. But Portland has more to worry about than revenge. The Timbers are in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Dallas, meanwhile, is eager to reverse last week's disappointing 1-0 loss at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy. It was a prime opportunity lost to regain some territory in the Western Division race. Now the pressure just increases, with only 11 games remaining in the regular season.
Portland is in danger of slipping further into the deep hole its already in. The Timbers (5-12-4) have the fewest points (19) of any team in the league and occupy the lonely ninth place in the West. FCD (5-11-7) isn't in much better shape, totaling 22 points, good for eighth in the West and tying 10th-place Toronto in the East. Dallas, however, has played one more game (23) than Toronto.
The schedule doesn't slow down for FCD, which plays four of five games in August, on the road. That is a very dangerous slate for a team in dire need of accumulating points. This month should point the direction of Dallas for 2012—either upward and onward, or looking to next season.
Portland, despite its fanatic fans, has been poor offensively and defensively, scoring just 19 markers on the season, opposed to 25 for Dallas and allowing 36, compared to FCD's 31 goals allowed. Comparatively, first-place San Jose has scored 45 goals and allowed 28.
Dallas sorely needs to take advantage of Portland's weaknesses to get back to what was a good string before last week's loss. Prior to the defeat to Los Angeles, Dallas had just one loss in six games, with two victories.
FCD is still fighting injuries,with Ugo Ihmelu and Jackson with concussion symptoms and Alex Lee (lower abdominal strain) out of the lineup. Leading scorer Blas Perez is also doubtful with a foot sprain, as well as midfielder Ricardo Villar (foot strain). Only the Timbers' Chris Taylor (hip surgery) is out, along with Jake Gleeson, competing in the Olympics for New Zealand.
George John is progressing after his extended absence and is also returning to his home area in the Northwest.
Portland's leading scorer Kris Boyd could see extended action Sunday. He came off the bench in Dallas for a 30-minute stint but his point production will be vital for the Timbers.
Dallas had a quick start at FC Dallas Stadium en-route to the rout two weeks ago, with Jair Benitez scoring in the 16th minute on a deflected shot and Zach Loyd following up 10 minutes later. No one will be expecting another runaway, but the Red and White will come away sorely disappointed without three points.