Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Philadelphia Union
Venue: Toyota Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Dallas 8/13 – Draw 14/5 – Philadelphia 9/2
This is a clash which matches up two teams that had completely contrasting season’s in 2015 as Dallas topped the Western Conference, and only New York Red Bulls got as many points as them across the whole of MLS (60).
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Union struggled in the Eastern Conference, finishing ninth with just 37 points as only Chicago Fire ended with a lower final tally.
But 2016 provides a chance to wipe the slate clean and Dallas will be desperate to get off to a positive start as they begin the long marathon that is the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield title and road to the MLS Playoffs.
Oscar Pareja’s side enjoyed a successful preseason, winning all three of the games they played, including a 2-1 success over New England Revolution.
Dallas have welcomed talented Argentinian forward Maxi Urruti from the Portland Timbers in an attempt to bolster an already strong squad – he bagged two goals in preseason and will be hoping to continue his good start to life in Texas.
Philadelphia Union have been hard at work in preseason with six games in total, winning two, drawing two and losing two, although their most recent fixture was a 1-0 success over Toronto.
Jim Curtin’s squad has a very different look about it compared to last year with a whole host of changes, so his main job will be trying to get this team to click as quickly as possible.
Perhaps the most promising addition is midfielder Chris Pontius who joins from DC United – the Union will be hoping he brings a stability to the team that will help them challenge for a playoff finish this year.
The only meeting between these two sides in 2015 saw Dallas come away with a 2-0 win from Philadelphia’s PPL Park thanks to goals from Tesho Akindele and Ryan Hollingshead.
FC Dallas have no injury concerns heading into their season opener, meaning Oscar Pareja has a full squad to choose from and will be expecting his side to be at their best right from the off. Rookie Timo Pitter will be pushing for a place in the squad after being the top goalscorer in preseason with three goals from midfield.
Maurice Edu (hernia) and Tranquillo Barnetta (knee) are both injury doubts for Philadelphia Union. There is likely to be a number of players making their debuts for the Union, including Chris Pontius and Roland Alberg.
FC Dallas’ preseason form: W/W/W
Philadelphia Union’s preseason form: L/L/D/W/D/W
Key Stat: Philadelphia Union have never won a game against FC Dallas in MLS (P8, D4, L4).
Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The young Colombian was a once again a key player for Dallas in 2015 with nine goals and nine assists from 30 appearances and if he can hit the ground running, the Union may struggle to keep him at bay.
FC Dallas 2-1 Philadelphia Union – FC Dallas had the best home record in MLS in 2015, winning 13 of their 17 home games, amassing 41 points from a possible 51, as well as losing just twice. It’s a tough ask for the Union to get a result on the opening day, but they’ll certainly put up a tough fight to prove otherwise.