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May 6, 2014 at 11:41 PM

Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas, preview and prediction

Sounders FC (6-2-1) vs. FC Dallas (5-3-1)
Wednesday, May 7, 7 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radioJOEtv (Seattle area: KZJO, channel 22/cable 10), ROOT Sports (regional), KIRO 97.3 FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: ESPN Deportes 1490 AM
Referee: Baldomero Toledo

KEY DALLAS PLAYERS

F Blas Perez — Two of the team’s co-leading scorers won’t be available for the visitors, as rising star Mauro Diaz is out with knee injury (perhaps for a very long time) and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson will be serving a red-card suspension. Perez, a Panamanian international, has the chops to lead the attack, having recorded 23 goals and nine assists since joining the league in 2012. He might also draw some motivation from missing a penalty kick Sunday that wasn’t especially well-taken.

M Fabian Castillo — The speedy Colombian caused a lot of problems down the left flank in the team’s previous meeting April 12, something that might have been forgotten amid the excitement of Seattle’s 3-2 comeback win. This 21 year old has also got a background that might sound familiar as a former youth product of Deportivo Cali in his home country, a similar track to ex-Sounder Fredy Montero. Castillo is still seeking consistency, but has game-changing talent.

D Matt Hedges — The North Carolina product has really settled in as a mainstay in the Dallas defense, which has been helpful with George John (a Shoreline native and University of Washington product) constantly on the mend. Hedges has similar physical tools to John as a tall, strong, athletic center back who can be dangerous on set pieces. Very dangerous, in fact. Hedges has nine career goals, two already this season in nine games.

KEY MATCHUPS

Obafemi Martins vs. Walker Zimmerman — The Sounders forward has scored in three straight games, tied for the longest active streak in the league. I wonder if having his World Cup hopes officially dashed Tuesday might also stoke the internal flames a bit. Dallas has a few center backs dealing with injury (the aforementioned George John and Stephen Keel, foot) so the visitors might call upon the youngster to start a second straight game.

Jair Benitez vs. DeAndre Yedlin — As noted earlier, Fabian Castillo matched up often with Yedlin, Seattle’s right back, in the previous meeting, but Benitez has also been known to bomb down the flank from his left back position. And with Yedlin’s attacking prowess, we’ll probably see these two matching up offensively and defensively. I wonder if the young Sounder’s place in the pre-World Cup training camp with the USMNT will be based on having solid performances in the next couple of games.

Sigi Schmid vs. Oscar Pareja — I don’t often put the coaches in these posts. In fact, this might be a first this season. I felt it makes sense this time, though, as both teams are dealing with their first midweek games, and thus managing the short turnaround. The task seems to be a lot more difficult for Dallas, which played on a hot Sunday afternoon down a man against New York. Seattle had an extra day’s rest and looks to be healthier. Getting the mix right after some inevitable changes will be key for both sides.

PREDICTION

It is becoming very hard to pick against the Sounders right now. Four straight wins has been nice — a five-game winning streak, too — but the comebacks have made this team seem almost invincible.

The things Dallas is dealing with (short rest, injuries, suspensions, back-to-back losses), doesn’t give me confidence that this is the squad to end Seattle’s hot streak. I do think they’ll come in looking to slow things down and turn it into a defensive battle.

In the end, make it five in a row.

Sounders FC 1, FC Dallas 0

SEA — Obafemi Martins (Clint Dempsey) 78′

How do you see this one playing out?

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| More in Preview and prediction, Sounders FC

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