FRISCO, Texas — If history teaches one thing, it’s to learn from the mistakes of the past.
When FC Dallas hosted New York in league play on Sept. 17, the Red Bulls got just two shots on target but needed only a finish from Luke Rodgers on the counter to win 1-0.
But FCD took notes in that match and are determined not to let what happened last month happen again when the two sides meet at Pizza Hut Park for their wild card match on Wednesday (9 pm ET; Fox Soccer/TSN2).
“We allowed ourselves to get caught up in the counterattack,” FCD ‘keeper Kevin Hartman told MLSsoccer.com after practice on Tuesday. “We just need to make sure we’ve got the right numbers back and guys feel confident about their responsibilities.”
Added defender George John: “Rodgers had that goal off a miscue on the back line. I think we all kind of weren’t on the same page, but more than anything I think we just need to come out excited and fired up to play them.”
This time around, there’s a bit of a twist to the matchup.
FC Dallas won’t have to worry about defending against Rodgers – the English striker has been ruled out of the game with a knee injury – but they will have to cope with Thierry Henry, who missed that September tilt due to an Achilles injury, and Dane Richards, whose goal against Philadelphia put the Red Bulls into the playoffs.
With Rodgers out, Henry and Richards are likely to partner up front. The duo has scored two goals apiece in their last five and six matches, respectively. Henry also tallied the equalizer in a 2-2 draw when FCD visited New York back in July.
“[Henry] is obviously a guy that can do a lot of different things, so you just have to make sure that you’re aware of where he is,” noted Hartman. “That being said, they certainly have other guys on their team that if you’re spending too much time looking at one guy, you’re going to lose focus and lose a guy that’s also very, very good like a Dane Richards.”
For FCD center back Ugo Ihemelu, the formula to stopping New York’s lethal pair sounds simple even though he realizes it’ll be a tall task.
“Just limit their opportunities,” he said. “They’re a quality team that has a lot of talent – especially in the attack – and when you make mistakes, usually they’re going to capitalize on them. I thought we did a decent job of that last game, but the one they got they did well with, so we just have to stay focused and make sure we stick to our marks.”
While solid defending will keep FCD in the match, head coach Schellas Hyndman knows that if the offense can't pull its weight, if the team can't put together a complete performance, then it’s going to be another long night.
“I think the shot count was [18-7 in our last meeting],” he noted. “We also had three balls off the post, so we were coming close. What’s the mistake? The mistake is not finishing your opportunities. Is that going to get better tomorrow? We want to create opportunities and then we go from there.”