CCL: FC Dallas keeping foot on the pedal vs. Toronto
FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas and Toronto FC may currently sit at opposite ends of the MLS table, but come Wednesday night at BMO Field (8 pm ET, Fox Soccer), it’s fair game in both teams' second match of CONCACAF Champions League Group C play.
Schellas Hyndman’s team has already beaten TFC twice in league play this year, but collecting three points in an international competition is another matter.
“For us to find success in CONCACAF, I think it's huge because it puts us at more of an international window,” said Hyndman, the 2010 MLS Coach of the Year. “It’s beating Pumas — the first [MLS] team to ever [to win in Mexico] — or playing in Panama or getting to the next phase. This is an important game for us with Toronto.”
While FC Dallas became the first MLS team to win in Mexico, defeating Pumas UNAM 1-0 on August 17, Toronto FC also found success south of the border, gathering three points against Panamanian side Tauro FC in their 2-1 win.
To take a commanding lead in the their group, FCD will have to do so without center back George John — who is near finalizing a transfer to the EPL’s Blackburn Rovers — and defensive utility man Zach Loyd, who remained in Dallas to nurse a hamstring injury suffered during Saturday’s league loss to the Seattle Sounders.
Without Loyd and John, any one of Jack Stewart, Bobby Warshaw and even midfielder Andrew Jacobson could see time on the back line Wednesday night.
“We have a couple of people that might step up,” Hyndman said. “Andrew Jacobson could be the best header on our team, and I think Andrew would be able to bring some qualities that we look for in a center back.”
Regardless of the team FC Dallas field, their foes on Wednesday will have a different look than the last meeting in mid-July, when Brek Shea scored a rocket from distance for the game’s only goal.
“It’s almost like playing a new team,” said the 21-year-old midfielder about Toronto. “They’ve been doing a lot of changes and they’ve almost changed the style of their play.”
Shea’s friend and former FC Dallas forward Peri Marosevic is among those changes for the Reds. The University of Michigan product has already scored two goals in a TFC kit and Shea said he was happy to see his friend and old teammate perform well.
However, friendship and familiarity aside, Shea and FCD won’t take their foot off the pedal.
“We still do research on them,” Shea said, “so we know what they’ve done in the last game and we have to be strong defensively. If we’re good on the wide play, we can definitely hurt them with that, especially with our speed and their lack of speed on the back line.”
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached on Twitter: @robertmcasner