FC Dallas has been one of the surprises of the early season in MLS, but the unbeaten Western Conference leader is set to face one of its toughest tests to date against Seattle.One of two remaining unbeatens left in MLS, along with Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas is off to an outstanding start to the 2014 season. But as coach Oscar Pareja surely knows, tough tests await in the coming weeks.
First among those tests is a home date against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday. The Sounders are coming off a stirring comeback in a 4-4 tie against the Portland Timbers. The match saw Clint Dempsey deliver a hat trick, and serve notice that he is ready to start dominating MLS the way he was expected to when he signed with the Sounders last summer.
Dempsey will be returning to his home state of Texas to face a Dallas team that has been one of the revelations of the early season. The Dallas defense has held its own despite not having registered a shutout yet this season. The Hoops have relied heavily on an attack that has scored 13 goals through five matches.
Leading the FCD attack is playmaker Mauro Diaz, who has emerged as one of the most dangerous creators in the league. He will face a good challenge from Osvaldo Alonso, who will have the task of trying to slow down the skillful Argentine midfielder.
One of the better matchups of this Western Conference showdown will be on the wing, where Fabian Castillo and DeAndre Yedlin should do battle in a clash of speedsters.
On the other side of the field, Dallas defender Matt Hedges will have his hands full trying to contain the forward tandem of Obafemi Martins and Dempsey, though Hedges has been one of the best defenders in the league so far this season.
Another Sounders forward to watch in this one is Kenny Cooper, who will be facing his former club for the first time since being dealt to Seattle in the offseason.