Each Major League Soccer matchday in 2021, the KeyBank Scouting Report will give you this snapshot of the Portland Timbers’ next opponent. On Saturday, the Timbers return to Frisco, Texas, to take on FC Dallas. The game kicks off at 5:00 p.m. PT on FOX 12 PLUS (KPDX).
It’s been a relatively slow start for FC Dallas. Two weeks ago, Luchi Gonzalez’s team opened their season with a scoreless draw at home to the Colorado Rapids before, last week, losing 3-1 on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes. Only Minnesota United FC and the New York Red Bulls, both 0-0-2, have worse records thus far.
This is where FC Dallas’ start has been particularly slow. Through 180 minutes, the team has only scored once: a 79th minute goal last week from Ricardo Pepi, one that came after his team was already 3-0 down. The 9.5 shots Dallas has averaged per game ranks tied for 22nd (out of 27 teams) in Major League Soccer.
The goals come from …
Despite being held without a goal during his first two starts, Franco Jara is FCD’s most danger goalscorer. The 32-year-old Argentine forward scored seven times in 19 appearances (1380 minutes) during his Dallas debut last season, making a smooth transition to MLS after five seasons (130 appearances) and 63 goals for Pachuca in Mexico.
… and the goals come through
Before this season, the answer would have been Michael Barrios, the lightning quick Colombian winger who recorded 33 assists for FCD between 2017 and 2020. This offseason, though, Barrios moved on to Colorado, and with Dallas yet to record an assist this season, it’s unclear who will step up as the team’s most prolific provider. Through two games, forward Jáder Obrian, starting at the next attacking level behind Jara in Dallas’s 3-4-2-1 formation, has a team-leading 0.6 xA – the number of goals that would normally be scored off the shots Obrian set up.
Three goals conceded by last week’s 60th minute was eye-opening in the wrong way for Dallas’s defense, but a broader look at FCD’s results hints the team’s defensive talent is better than that San Jose result. Not only did the team keep a clean sheet in their season opener, but Dallas is coming off a season in which it allowed only 24 goals in 22 regular-season games. And as Timbers fans will remember, FCD held Portland, MLS’s second-best attack last season, to one goal over 120 minutes in the teams’ 2020 playoff game at Providence Park.
This year marks Matt Hedges’ 10th in the middle of FC Dallas’s defense. Over that time, he’s appeared in 264 games, has been part of teams that have won a Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup, and was voted the league’s best defender in 2016. He’s a three-time All Star, a two-time Best XI selection and, this year, is assuming a new role in the middle of Dallas’s three central-defender formation. Having just turned 31, Hedges has established himself as the best defender in team history, and he’ll be one of Dallas’s most important players throughout the 2021 season.
Thanks to Portland Timbers Communications, here’s what else we know about Saturday’s game:
- Saturday will be the 28th all-time meeting between Portland and Dallas, with the Timbers leading the teams’ series, 10-8-9.
- At FC Dallas, however, Portland is 1-7-4 all-time in the regular season.
- Portland will be without Steve Clark (left thigh strain), Aljaz Ivacic (athletic pubalgia surgery), Ismaila Jome (left Achilles tendon surgery), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (left ACL surgery, and Cristhian Paredes (left thigh strain), while Sebastián Blanco (right ACL surgery) and Jeremy Ebobisse (left thigh strain) are listed as “Questionable” for Saturday’s match.