FRISCO (Sports Network) – The Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas have started the 2011 Major League Soccer season on opposite ends of the spectrum after meeting in the MLS Cup Championship to close out the 2010 season.
Colorado earned an extra-time victory to claim the 2010 title, and have carried that momentum into 2011, starting a league-best 3-0-0. Dallas, on the other hand, has started 0-2-1, joining the expansion Portland Timbers and Chivas USA at the bottom of the league’s overall table.
So will Dallas use Friday’s match at Pizza Hut Park against the Rapids team that took the title away from it last season to jumpstart its 2011 season?
“We’re not thinking about last season or getting revenge against Colorado,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said on his club’s website. “We’re looking at this game as an opportunity to get a win at home against a good opponent.”
The Hoops are coming off a 2-0 loss at Columbus this past weekend, so a win against the unbeaten Rapids would go a long way toward restoring some lost confidence.
A shot in the arm from veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman could also help.
“I think the biggest thing for us right now is to lead by example,” he told mlssoccer.com about veterans leading the team out of its early-season funk. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure they see us working ridiculously hard so that we have the opportunity to call people out that aren’t working hard.”
Colorado, on the other hand, is coming off a 4-1 win vs. D.C. United and has outscored the opposition in its first three games 8-2.
Forward Caleb Folan, acquired from Hull City in England just before the start of the season, scored his first two MLS goals in the most recent win.
“I’m not sure he could have wished for a better home debut,” Rapids coach Gary Smith said. “I’m not sure I could have. I think he’s just started to show what he is capable of. He’s a big, strong, athletic lad, and we’ve seen that he can score goals as well.”
Folan will be big in coming weeks, with Conor Casey out for about a month with a hamstring strain and depth striker Macoumba Kandji still recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in November.
Good news on the injury front, however, is goalkeeper Matt Pickens and defender Kosuke Kimura are expected to play Friday with minor knocks.
Dallas will be without defenders Kyle Davies and Edson Edward, while Jair Benitez is questionable because of injuries. Also out is midfielder Jackson Goncalves, who received two yellow cards against Columbus last weekend.