FRISCO, Texas – With just two days to prepare for their home match against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online), FC Dallas’ goal at Friday morning practice was clear: Stop the Quakes’ aerial attack.
“They’re always dangerous on set pieces,” defender Matt Hedges told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve got a couple big guys who get on the end of them, so we just did some extra work on what we thought they might do and even from the run of play serving in crosses to the back post.”
The Earthquakes visit FC Dallas Stadium with 36 points from their 18 games and 36 goals scored, both MLS bests, and their most potent threat has been in the air.
In fact, using their heads has been the preferred way of scoring this year for San Jose with 14 headed goals on the season, almost triple FCD’s tally of headed goals on the year.
“They’re very good at recycling the ball when it comes out,” Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said after practice. “They’re very good at runs to the far post getting away from people and getting the knockdown balls coming in from the far side … so what we wanted to do today was at least give our guys a chance to see what’s going to come.”
Indeed, it’s been more than just the Quakes’ big guys that have been beating opponents this season, as three San Jose forwards have at least six goals this season while ex-Dallas man Marvin Chávez and Steven Beitashour have a combined 13 assists coming from the right side of the field.
FCD forward Scott Sealy would know what San Jose has to offer better than most, having spent the last two seasons there before moving to Dallas in 2012.
“They’re handfuls in different ways,” Sealy said of the Quakes attack. “[Chris Wondolowski] is a play off the defender’s shoulder and sniff around kind of forward, while [Steven] Lenhart is just physically very imposing. When you play with those guys, they make it a lot easier for you and they find ways to be effective and they do what they want to do.”