Preview: FC Dallas, RBNY open up playoffs with wild card showdown
FC DALLAS v NEW YORK RED BULLS
Wed., Oct. 26, Pizza Hut Park (9 p.m. ET; FOX Soccer, TSN2)
REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Edvin Jurisevic
INJURY REPORT: FC DALLAS -- OUT: DF Edson Edward (R knee ACL tear); MF David Ferreira (R ankle); GK Josh Lambo (jaw); MF Ricardo Villar (foot); PROBABLE: MF Andrew Wiedeman (groin) ...
NEW YORK RED BULLS -- OUT: DF Chris Albright (R calf strain); MF Sacir Hot (R knee surgery); MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); QUESTIONABLE: FW Luke Rodgers (L knee inflammation)
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: DAL 16 wins (0 SO), 59 GF ... NY 18 wins (1 SO), 54 GF... Ties 4
2011 HEAD-TO-HEAD: DAL 0 wins, 2 GF ... NY 1 win, 3 GF ... 1 tie ... AT PIZZA HUT PARK: 9/17: DAL 0, NY 1 (Rodgers 36)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: DAL 0 wins, 2 GF; NY 2 wins, 4 GF; 0 ties
- FC Dallas come into the wild card after conceding seven goals in two games, a 3-0 loss to Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League group finale that eliminated them from that competition, and a 4-2 loss at San Jose that kept them in the Wild Card after Real Salt Lake left the door open.
- "Last year, we lost our last two regular-season games to LA and Salt Lake and we did the same thing this year," said defender Zach Loyd. "I think we've been through a lot of adversity, but I think we still have the belief in ourselves that we can go into the playoffs and make a solid run like we did last year."
- Midfielder Ricardo Villar was forced off at halftime in the Toronto CCL match with a foot injury, an ailment that kept him unable to go in San Jose -- and has kept him out of full training in the days leading up to the Wild Card game.
- "That really was a big blow for us," FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. "Without Villar, there just really isn't that connector in the attacking third to create opportunities for players."
- In the regular season finale, three players made their first league starts of the season, while three others made a return after a long absence. Winger Brek Shea missed just his third game of the season.
- "Brek Shea has played so many games and traveled so far with the national team," said Hyndman. "If we're going to find any success in the playoffs, we want Brek to be lively."
- Hyndman said midfielder David Ferreira, the 2010 MLS MVP injured in April, would not be available. "He's 60-65 percent. We were hoping to be able to get him on the field - he'd be a great addition to our team - but we'd have to go deep into the playoffs. And then we're not sure if we want to risk re-injuring him," said Hyndman.
- When FC Dallas reached MLS Cup a year ago, they did it after a two-year absence from the postseason. They have won their last two playoff games at Pizza Hut Park, including a 2-1 win against Real Salt Lake in the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals last year.
NEW YORK RED BULLS
- The Red Bulls went 4-2-1 down the stretch to clinch the final playoff spot -- a stretch that started with a 1-0 win at FC Dallas on Sept. 17, when Luke Rodgers scored the game's lone goal.
- "Obviously that's the game that kind of got everything going to finish the season up," defender Tim Ream said. "There's definitely a little more confidence going down there. We know that it's much easier to go down there, get a result - come on out of there with a victory."
- Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe said on Tuesday that striker Luke Rodgers would not be available. New York are 1-3-7 this season without Rodgers in the lineup.
- “He’s out,” Backe said. “He will just be available Friday for some session if he responds well. Unfortunately, we have a frightening record without Luke. I mean, we only won one game without Luke. But he’s definitely out.”
- With Rodgers out, Dane Richards appears to be the odds-on choice to partner Thierry Henry in attack. "It's much different [than playing with Rodgers]," Richards said of playing with Henry. "'Titi' is going to drop into the midfield, play with the midfield. I need to change up my runs, stay onside."
- Juan Agudelo has not started since that match in Dallas, when he started in place of an injured Henry. Backe indicated the teenager could fill Richards place wide on the right of midfield.
- "I also think with Juan now, with the type of players we have now, his first choice could be a wide position and I know he's quite happy playing wide," Backe said of Agudelo. "[He] gets a little more time and space on the ball instead of being a striker and the center back sits on [him]."
- The Red Bulls have won their last three road games in the MLS Cup Playoffs. They won in Houston and Salt Lake on their way to MLS Cup 2009, and won the first leg of last year's Eastern Conference semifinals at San Jose before falling in the second leg.
- "We all know it's a knockout game, we know it's going to be a difficult task," Henry said. "Even though Dallas had a poor run at the end, I think for me it's still one of the best teams in this league. We're going to have to do something amazing to get a win, but it's doable."