Weekly update: Pair of crucial games
FC Dallas' run of nine games in 28 days will finally come to an end this week when they take on the Columbus Crew and Colorado Rapids in a pair of crucial league matches. Wednesday night's game against the Crew will be the final midweek game of the season for the Hoops, as well as the first visit of a fellow Hunt Sports Group owned team to Pizza Hut Park. The Crew goes into the game knowing that anything less than the full three points will see them miss the postseason for the second time in three years, while Dallas will be looking to once again leap frog the idle Los Angeles Galaxy and regain control of second place in the Western Conference.
Following the meeting with the Crew, FC Dallas will hold a pair of training sessions before their final Conference game of the year against the Colorado Rapids. Fernando Clavijo's side has already clinched a playoff spot in the West and will be looking to continue its recent run of good play as it heads into the postseason. The Rapids, in addition to Saturday's game against FCD, have a home game against Chivas and a road game with Real Salt Lake to close the season. They are currently two points behind the Hoops and three back of L.A., meaning that Saturday night's game could be a potential Conference Semifinal preview.
You can catch each of these games live on KFCD 990AM (English) with Ray Canevari or Radio AYO 1540AM (Spanish) with Carlos Alvardo and Jesus Padilla.
Tuesday, October 4: 9:30 a.m. @ Pizza Hut Park
Wednesday, October 5: FC Dallas (12-10-7, 43 points) vs. Columbus Crew (10-15-4, 34 points) at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) at Pizza Hut Park
Thursday, October 6: 9:30 a.m. @ Pizza Hut Park
Friday, October 7: 9:30 a.m. @ Pizza Hut Park
Saturday, October 8: FC Dallas (12-10-7, 43 points) vs. Colorado Rapids (12-13-4, 40 points) at 7:30 p.m. (CDT) at Pizza Hut Park
Sunday, October 9: FC Dallas Reserves (5-4-1, 16 points) vs. Colorado Rapids Reserves (4-4-2, 14 points) at 10:00 p.m. (CDT)
* Schedule is subject to change.
DOWN TO THE BAREBONES: After playing much of Saturday night's match against the Los Angeles Galaxy without six of its top players, FC Dallas will find itself in a similar position for this weeks two matches. Against the Crew, Colin Clarke will again be without long-term injury victims Jeff Cassar, Eddie Johnson and Richard Mulrooney, while Ronnie O'Brien's status will not be determined until later in the week as he recuperates from a lower back contusion that he suffered in Wednesday night's U.S. Open Cup Final.
Clarke will also be without his two top goal scorers, Carlos Ruiz and Roberto Mina, who will be with the National Teams of Guatemala and Ecuador respectively, and his two first choice center backs in Clarence Goodson and Greg Vanney as each will be forced to serve one-game suspensions. Only Goodson and Vanney are expected to be back in uniform for Dallas on Saturday.
PITCH BLAST UP FOR WEEKLY AWARD: FC Dallas midfielder Aaron Pitchkolan is up for MLS Sierra Mist Goal of the Week following his 42nd minute strike against the Galaxy on Saturday night. The goal, which was the third of the year for the rookie out of West Virginia, tied the score up at 1-1 following Herculez Gomez's opening strike in the 12th minute. Bobby Rhine started the ball when he sent an early cross from the right flank into the box for Roberto Mina who, despite being under tight pressure from Ugo Ihemelu, was able to knock the ball down into the path of Pitchkolan who rifled a shot past Kevin Hartman from 20 yards out.
The goal was the first for Pitchkolan since his 13th minute strike against Colorado on June 25 and his second of the year at The Home Depot Center. Pitchkolan's first career MLS goal came in the 1st minute of a 5-2 win over Chivas USA on May 22 at the Home Depot Center.
SALA SET TO GO: Late on Friday evening, the FC Dallas roster was finally set as goalkeeper Darío Sala was officially cleared to play for the Hoops. Colin Clarke added the Argentine veteran to his roster prior to the September 15 roster freeze, but Sala was still waiting for the paperwork for his International Transfer Clearance to be finalized and processed, which was finally on Friday evening.
The 30-year old shot-stopper made his Dallas debut in the reserve game on Sunday, playing 80 minutes and making a string of impressive saves as Dallas went on to a 2-0 win.
THE HUNT FOR A RED AND WHITE OCTOBER: Saturday night's 2-1 loss to the Galaxy dropped FC Dallas into third place in the Western Conference, meaning that the Hoops would host L.A. in the opening match of the Conference Semifinals before returning to The Home Depot Center a week later in the return leg. However, Colorado was also able to pick up three points on Saturday, coming back to beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 to pull within three points of Dallas with three games left for each, compared to just one for the Galaxy.
The Rapids will come to Pizza Hut Park on Saturday night with a win in that game assuring FCD of a higher finish than Colorado in the standings. If the Hoops are able to win on Saturday against Colorado, no matter what the Rapids do on Wednesday night against Chivas, they will be able to finish no worse than level on points with Colorado, with Dallas owning the series tiebreaker.
If Dallas can take five points from its final nine, it will assure itself the No. 2 seed and a game at Pizza Hut Park in the second leg of the Conference Semifinals during the weekend of October 29-31.
Against the teams that it could potentially meet in the Western Conference Playoffs, FC Dallas is 4-3-4 with one game remaining. Against the Earthquakes, the Hoops are 0-1-3, compared to 2-2-0 against the Galaxy and 2-0-1 against Colorado.
FC DALLAS WEEKLY TAKES OVER DAVE AND BUSTER'S IN FRISCO: Please join us this Thursday night for the weekly FC Dallas Radio Show with Ray Canevari on KFCD 990 AM. "FC Dallas Weekly" airs every Thursday from 6 - 7 p.m. on KFCD. This Thursday Canevari and KFCD will once again take the show to Dave and Buster's at the Stonebriar Mall in Frisco where he will recap Wednesday night's match against Columbus, and look ahead to Saturday night's Western Conference Showdown with the Rapids. Head Coach Colin Clarke and defender Drew Moor will provide insight into these two games while Canevari will also be joined by Brian Forbes of The Denver Post and other special guests.