FC Dallas is a curious side. They are pretty good at home, going 4-0-2, but not on the road, going 2-4-0. They don't change to a bunker or leave players home, they just get beat outside of Frisco. Bad news: The game is in Frisco. Good news: While they are road matches, Dallas has lost games 3-0, 4-0, and 5-0. A top team doesn't just coincidentally do that. One of their road wins and last home win were against Portland. They've beat them a combined 5-2. It looks like they just get how to beat Caleb Porter -- good for them. They bested Montreal and Philly early on (sound familiar?). They couldn't beat Columbus or San Jose, earning draws (point, Sounders). They beat Vermes' KC after the collapse. This will be a tough game, but they are ripe to give up their first three points at home.
Mauro Diaz is the best player on their roster, no question. Funny story: They appear to play worse with him than without him. With him on the field they are 4-0-4 (or Not Found). He's got a goal and four assists, not a great clip for an explosive offense's number 10. As the club pushes direct play and uses the speed of Castillo as an outlet, the need for Diaz to put everything on a plate for people has disappeared, and he's becoming an afterthought. Their offense is a successful version of the Crew's, a lot like last year, but with a worse striker and a more mobile number 10. They play down the wings, back inside for a distance shot or for a final touch from Diaz to the collapsed winger or striker. Those balls haven't been there. In 12 played they have 17 goals. Averaging about 1.5 goals a game is not the sign of a poor offense, but combined with being shutout in a third of their matches, there are plenty of questions of what FC Dallas will show up.
Free kicks. Five of 12 goals, including one a PK and corner-caused own goal, are from set pieces. Diaz, Akindele, Figueroa, oh and Mauro Rosales can all hit perfect free kicks. They are very dangerous. The Sounders have committed (or really been called for committing) fouls in dangerous areas at a high clip this season. They will put themselves in harm's way, and while Evans and Marshall are big guys, the team overall has looked poor on set pieces. As a percentage, the club does well, but it only takes one. So for the Sounders, just don't foul Fabian Castillo or Mauro Diaz when they're getting near the box, foul earlier.
Defensively, they shut out teams in three matches (three of their first four). All three were Eastern Conference sides. Statistically speaking, the Sounders are likely to score at least a goal, even in Dallas this week. The club has given up 19 goals, five of those were at home in their last four home matches. The back line changes often, with Figueroa being the only consistent starter. Hollingshead and Harris trade at RB, and Loyd, Hedges and Zimmerman make up the CB trio. They each offer different skills, but all three get caught flat-footed very easily. Figueroa is better at going forward than holding down the fort. The Sounders should have a good hole on the right side of the offense because of that, but they shouldn't use it. Go down the left, because both right backs are midfielders by trade. Both love to commit bad fouls. More importantly, Fabian Castillo pushes so high up the pitch that it brings the RB with him. They attack almost 50 percent of the time down that side, meaning there is a gaping channel you could get Bertha through. Attacking down the Sounders' left gives them two advantages: Either A) Castillo is more careful and the RB stays at home, or B) There's a giant attacking channel. If it is B), a center back has to pull wide, giving a 1v1 in the box for a cross and likely an unmarked late runner. Whoever is on the left might have a speed disadvantage against Harris, but not against Hollingshead. They'll still have a speed advantage in the middle for the striker, so even an early cross should be successful.
The Sounders are in a perfect position to get a win in Frisco. The keys will be neutralizing Castillo's speed and not fouling deep in their own defensive third. If the Sounders can do that, it'll be like the second half against Columbus: No offense for Dallas and goalscoring opportunities for Seattle. It'll be a tough 2-1 Seattle.
FC Dallas: Seitz, Hollingshead, Loyd, Zimmerman, Figueroa, Acosta, Ulloa, Castillo, Diaz, Barrios, Akindele
Sounders: Frei, Mears, Evans, Marshall, Remick, Alonso, Friberg, Dempsey, Ivanschitz, Gomez, Morris