FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – One month into the 2010 Major League Soccer season and 37 games into the 240-game regular-season schedule, two teams have yet to earn a victory. One of those clubs – FC Dallas – visits Gillette Stadium on Saturday night to face the Revolution.
It seems like the perfect scenario for the Revs, who are looking to snap a brief two-game losing streak and quickly change the tenor of their three-game home-stand, which opened with a loss to the Colorado Rapids last weekend. But a quick look at the facts reveals that Dallas isn’t in quite as much trouble as the club’s winless record would suggest.
While D.C. United – the only other team without a win – has been outscored 11-2 en route to opening the season with four straight losses, it’s been a remarkably different set of circumstances for the Hoops. First of all, Dallas (0-1-3, 3 pts.) has only lost one match – that being a road loss at the hands of the red-hot New York Red Bulls – and has played to a trio of draws against quality opponents (Houston Dynamo, Columbus Crew and Seattle Sounders) at Pizza Hut Park. Although they haven’t yet secured a win, the Hoops have conceded just one more goal (7) than they’ve scored (6).
“They’re a good team,” said central midfielder Pat Phelan. “They’ve got talent. On their day, they can beat anyone, so it’s kind of a dangerous team.”
It’s often considered a treacherous task to face a winless club – or any team struggling to win games, for that matter – because of the prospect of being lulled into a false sense of confidence. Should the Revs make the mistake of taking FC Dallas lightly based on the club’s record, they could well become the first team to suffer defeat at the hands of FCD this season.
That, of course, is assuming that New England’s players and staff are even aware that Dallas is winless.
“To be honest with you, I don’t even know what their record is,” said Cory Gibbs, who played briefly with Dallas in 2004 during his first stint in MLS. “All I know is about their team and their players. Anybody could be on form on any day, so we just have to make sure we stay focused, implement our plan and just work to the best of our abilities and we should be alright.”
Head coach Steve Nicol also gave little credence to Dallas’ record, claiming it’s much more beneficial to look at the team as a whole. At the same time, he’s focused primarily on what his own players need to accomplish.
“We’re not really looking at [their record] or anything to do with what they’ve done previously,” he said. “At the end of the day, they’ve got some players that can hurt you. If we can start well and put them under pressure, then any guns that they have will be somewhat nullified. So it’s really up to us to push the buttons at the right time and get after them.”
Nicol will have a decent idea of what buttons to push based on one previous meeting between the clubs this year. Although the Revolution doesn’t often play against fellow MLS teams in preseason competition, the Revs and Hoops squared off in an exhibition match in late February, when both clubs were stationed in Orlando, Fla. Goals from Atiba Harris and Marvin Chavez earned Dallas a 2-0 win in that game, although it was the Revolution’s first preseason match and the Hoops had already played a handful of games.
Based on the experience gained in that match alone, the Revs are well aware of the dangers this Dallas team can pose.
“We know they’re a good team,” said rookie defender Seth Sinovic, who saw his first action in a Revolution uniform in that preseason exhibition against FCD. “They’ve had a bunch of ties – it’s not necessarily like they’ve been losing games. We played them in preseason, and they’re a good team. We lost to them [then], so hopefully we can come out of it with a win this weekend.”
Of course, there’s another side to this scenario which has flown under the radar. While Dallas is one of just two winless teams searching for its first victory, the Revolution has dropped two consecutive games and is looking to turn the tables on its own fortunes.
For that reason, Phelan believes that perhaps it’s FCD which should be wary of New England.
“We can’t overlook them,” Phelan agreed. “But from our standpoint, we’ve lost the last couple [games], so I think they should be a little worried about coming in here, too.”