FCD look to start July on the right foot against Crew

Eric Alexander of FC Dallas

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FRISCO, Texas — When FC Dallas began their run toward the top of the MLS table, it was in the midst of what was, to that point, their busiest stretch of the year. Seven games in May produced four wins and three draws, and a quieter schedule in June saw FCD largely continue their momentum.

Now sitting second in the Western Conference, FCD enter the first weekend in July with a busy schedule once again looming in front of them. Their first of eight games this month is Saturday evening (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online) against the Columbus Crew in a Pioneer Cup showdown at Pizza Hut Park.

The next 31 days hold six league games, one Lamar Hunt US Open Cup quarterfinal game against Real Salt Lake, and FC Dallas’ CONCACAF Champions League group phase qualifying match against Alianza FC in El Salvador.

Starting the month off with three points against the Crew is top priority for FC Dallas.

“It’s really important,” said midfielder Andrew Jacobson after Friday’s run-through at Pizza Hut Park. “There’s a ton of games and it’s really easy to look at just the month of July as a whole. We’ve had a good mentality up until now of just taking it one game at a time, and I think that’s something that we really need to do.”

Added midfielder Eric Alexander: “It’s very important to get a good result tomorrow. It kind of just snowballs. The team gets confidence, and we play better and better so it’s very important.”

Since losing to Columbus in the third week of the season, FC Dallas have lost only twice, climbing up the Western Conference table and sitting only four points back of league-leaders LA Galaxy. The Crew enter the Pioneer Cup’s second leg having won their last two games and currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference.

Regardless of either team’s position in the standings, Alexander remembers the loss to Columbus on April Fools Day.

“It’s not a revenge factor, but obviously we want to do well against every team,” he said. “It’s going to be in the back of our mind that at the beginning of the season we weren’t doing well, but we want to prove that we can beat them.”

Jacobson reiterated Alexander’s statement.

“They beat us in the first game and we don’t want to get swept in any series,” he said.

While the Crew haven’t won at Pizza Hut Park in nearly three years dating back to August 30, 2008, FC Dallas understand their abilities.

“They’re an athletic team, they’re fast, they work hard, and obviously they’re good individually on the ball,” said Alexander. “They’re going to be dangerous, but hopefully we’ll be able to stop them and come out with a good result.”

HYNDMAN SAYS LOYD OK TO PLAY

Defender Zach Loyd suffered a hamstring injury in the second half of FC Dallas’ 3-2 win over Orlando City in Open Cup play on Tuesday night.

There was speculation he could be out for a sustained period just weeks after battling through a shin contusion, but FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman had good news on Friday.

“I think he’ll be fine,” he said. “We kept him out of training just to evaluate. I know he wants to be out there, and I think we will just see how he does.”

Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at rmcasner@gmail.com and on Twitter: @FCDallasBeatGuy