FC Dallas have a lot at stake this Saturday when Real Salt Lake come to the Cotton Bowl: an unbeaten record, keeping the unblemished home record intact and the return of forward Jason Kreis, who spent nine years with the Dallas franchise.
Emotions will be high for many as Kreis returns to his old home, as he faces many ex-teammates, but FCD won't get into the hype of the homecoming.
"I have seen it before, guys come to their old team and score a hat trick. Hopefully it doesn't happen tomorrow," said team captain Simo Valakari. "Of course I wish him all the best -- he's a good player and he is very fit now."
Said U.S. national team forward Eddie Johnson: "This is a home game for Jason. He brought so many fans to Dallas."
FC Dallas realize there is more to RSL than just Kreis, as the expansion team won their inaugural home game a week ago with 25,000 fans cheering them on in a nationally televised 1-0 victory against the Colorado Rapids.
"They [Real] have a couple of players that we need to keep a close eye on with Jason [Kreis], Clint Mathis, and Dipsy [Selolwane]. I don't know him very well but he is quick and he seems to have something special so we will have to keep an eye on him," said defender Greg Vanney.
With the return of Mathis to MLS -- likely playing in an attacking midfield role this weekend -- RSL are more lethal in that he will attract attention and give the forwards space.
"We are just going to try to keep Clint at bay, Clint can do just about anything he wants to do," said Vanney. "He can shoot from distance with either foot, he can take you on, and he can make other players dangerous, so the idea is to keep Clint as far away from the goal as possible and keep his head down and not allow him to get a shot off."
FCD are still tweaking the new formation by experimenting with new players, as Bobby Rhine will again be at right back while Valakari should play in central midfield.
"If you have good players it doesn't matter what system you play in. So far we have got the results hopefully we will continue," said Valakari. "I am feeling good now, my shoulder and all."
Johnson will have something to prove as well, because he was under the wings of Kreis up until last year when the fantastic forward tied for first place with the most goals scored in MLS with counterpart Carlos Ruiz.
"I want to prove a point, and put on the field everything that I have learned from him when he was here," the young striker said.
When it's all said and done FCD will try to not change anything from the opening weeks but they will keep a watchful eye on certain Real players.
"We are going to stick with our plan, our defensive scheme that we have worked on all year and try to progress our team a little bit defensively," said Vanney. "Because each match we want to get better as a unit in the back and that is what our focus is going to be. Obviously we have to keep a little bit of a close eye on a couple of guys that can change the game in an instant and we will do that -- take special care of those guys."
Ron Goode is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.