FRISCO, Texas — Though the FC Dallas attack is built around speed, the team has struggled in 2011 to get off to a fast start.
Heading into Wednesday’s wild card match with New York (9 pm ET, Fox Soccer/TSN2), the team has scored the fewest goals in MLS in the opening 15 minutes of the match, just one.
That lone goal came back on Aug. 6 in a 3-1 loss to the LA Galaxy when Marvin Chávez scored in the ninth minute. Flying out of the traps against the Red Bulls on Wednesday is vital.
“Getting the first goal throughout our season has been very important to us,” defender George John told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “I think more than anything, it just gives you momentum in the game.”
Momentum is something Dallas has seldom captured in the latter stages of the season. When forward Jackson scored in the 41st minute at Chicago on Oct. 12, it marked the first MLS goal Dallas have scored in the opening half since Aug. 13. During that stretch, FCD went six games without a first-half goal, compiling a 1-5-0 record.
On the other side of the spectrum are New York, who lead the league with 10 goals during the opening 15 minutes of play. Leading scorer Thierry Henry has netted three such goals. More importantly, the Red Bulls have yet to lose a game in which they scored first (10-0-9). FC Dallas on the other hand, have only won twice when conceding the first goal (2-11-2).
“They are probably the most talented team in the league,” All-Star midfielder Brek Shea told MLSsoccer.com. “It takes one second for one of their players to do something good and make a bright spot in the game.”
Though Dallas outshot New York 19-6 and dominated play in a 1-0 loss on Sept. 17, head coach Schellas Hyndman expects a different Red Bulls team on Wednesday.
“They are going to come out and try to dominate like they do every game,” Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com. “We’re glad that we’re home. We’re also glad that we’ve got a little bit of life in our legs.”
Despite the side’s track record throughout the season, Hyndman believes his team is capable of grabbing an early lead.
“You can also look at how many teams scored on them first,” he said. “And we’re looking at ways that we might be one of those teams that scores first.”