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September 2, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, preview and prediction

FC Dallas Logo.jpgSounders FC (12-6-7) vs. FC Dallas (8-12-8)

Sunday, Sept. 2, 4 p.m., FC Dallas Stadium, Frisco, Texas

TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, KIRO-FM 97.3 (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Sorin Stoica

KEY FC DALLAS PLAYERS

M David Ferreira — The 2010 MLS MVP is back from the long-term injury suffered early last season and is playing up to that MVP level. Has made Dallas a whole new team with two goals and six assists in his past seven games. His return has coincided with new-found team success, as well, with a 5-3-3 record after being one of the worst teams in the league during his absence.

F Blas Perez — The 31-year-old Panamian is the team’s co-leader with five goals despite having missed 12 games recently with a foot injury. Might’ve been in line for MLS Newcomer of the Year consideration had he stayed healthy. Played 49 minutes as a sub in last week’s 2-0 loss to the Galaxy and should be in line for his first start since May. Appears to be the answer at forward, which was a serious issue for much of last season.

GK Kevin Hartman — Has made a lot of saves this season (74), but his save percentage of 65 is among of the worst of regular starters. Hasn’t seemingly been up to his usual level this year but still boasts league GK records in wins (179), losses (142), minutes (36,720), games (410), starts (405), saves (1,450) and clean sheets (111). Also phenomenal at PKs, with just one allowed in four attempts against this season.

KEY MATCHUPS

Fredy Montero vs. George John — The Sounders forward might be the hottest player in the league right now with goals in four-straight MLS games. Seattle has played seven games in August and Montero has scored in six of them (eight goals total). A concussion forced John (a Shoreline native and UW product) to miss a couple months, but he’s back and has started the past five games.

Christian Tiffert vs. Julian de Guzman — Seattle’s new DP only played a handful of minutes in Trinidad, so he should be fine to start Sunday. Also, coach Sigi Schmid has joked that Tiffert is always cold (he wears jackets during sunny training sessions, long-sleeve jerseys during sunny games), so maybe the Texas heat won’t affect him as much. Dallas’ new central midfielder is a veteran presence in the middle of the park that will try to make things difficult.

Fatigue/heat vs. rested/desperate — The Sounders have estimated this latest road trip at about 11,150 miles upon arrival to Seattle. Coupled with a highs of over 100 degrees in Frisco today, it could get tiring. Dallas on the other hand needs these points to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. The hosts should be nearly at full strength and rested.

PREDICTION

Schmid played a strong lineup Thursday in Trinidad but still has a number of guys who really didn’t feature — e.g. Eddie Johnson, Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert, Adam Johansson. The Sounders lead the series 3-1-3 all-time and, interestingly, have never lost in Dallas (2-0-2).

I think Seattle’s fatigue will play a big part in this one, but so will the team’s superior quality. The Sounders have arguably been the best team in the league since the start of August, which has been become a common late-season trend in past years.

I see the visitors coming away with a point.

Sounders FC 1, FC Dallas 1

FCD — Brek Shea (Andrew Jacobson) 41′

SEA — Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales, Christian Tiffert) 63′

* * *

How do you see this one playing out?

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