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What We Know and What We Don't: FC Dallas

In which we take a look at what we can expect from this Sunday's match in Frisco, Texas.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The last few weeks have seen a pleasant turn around for New York's boys in white.  The New York Red Bulls have won their first and second matches of the season and got a valuable point on the road in Columbus after short rest.  Following a tough start to 2014, things seem to be looking up.  Now the Red Bulls are hoping to grab their first three points away from home.  Will they be able to pull it off this week?

Here's what we know:

  • New York is getting healthier.

It feels like the Red Bulls haven't been able to maintain a completely healthy side since the start of the season.  Injuries to the back line have presented some depth issues for the defense, while Tim Cahill's hamstring managed to pull off the impossible by keeping the Australian DP out for the team trainer's fully projected amount of time.  Fortunately (or unfortunately) both Bobby Convey and Richard Eckersley have returned to full training while only being listed as "doubtful questionable*" on the latest injury report.  Cahill's name is absent the list all together.  With the team playing as well as they have been, the added depth can only help.

Dallas kicked off to a dream start this season.  Sharing a league leading best, 5-2-1 record with the Seattle Sounders, they've looked fast, sleek and dangerous.   A big part of their success?   Young, Argentine midfielder, Mauro Diaz.  A spring board for Dallas' attack, Diaz has been having a revelation of a season....and that revelation may have just come to an end.  It's being rumored that the young midfielder will miss the rest of 2014 due to a torn meniscus.   It's never good to hear of anyone being sidelined for that amount of time, but losing a talent like Diaz comes as a huge blow to FC Dallas' season.  A blow that could help New York get their first win on the road.

  • BWP is on fire.

It only took one week and one positional change for Eric Alexander to hand the title of "team goat" off to Bradley Wright-Phillips.   A week later, and the title is, once again, looking for a new owner.  Wright-Phillips appears to have passed the allotted time it takes for foreign players to acclimate to the league and is now plenty comfortable in his position next to Thierry Henry.   Not only has BWP become the first Englishman to notch a hat trick in MLS, he has also been a menace to opposing defenses, making all the right runs in order to free up space for Henry to create.   If able to maintain his current production, BWP adds the kind of play up top that this team has lacked for the last year and makes New York hard to beat.

Here's what we don't know:

  • So who's going to be starting and where?

Mike Petke's starting lineups have been an easy call up to this point due to sheer necessity.  With Tim Cahill, Richard Eckersley and Bobby Convey all nursing injuries, there was little room for experimentation with the boys on the pitch.   Other than Eric Alexander starting out left over a healthy Jonny Steele,  all of the decisions were already made because of a lack of other options.  Now that the team is getting back to full health, what will their starting eleven look like?  We'll most likely see a very similar lineup as the last two matches, with one exception: Tim Cahill.  Now healthy, who does last year's team MVP replace?  Does Petke put him in for an under performing Peguy Luyindula?  Does BWP start on the bench to be brought in as a super sub or does Petke decide not to start Cahill in the first place?

  • Can New York make a statement?

Putting injuries aside, FC Dallas is one hell of a squad.  New coach Oscar Pareja has them playing damn good soccer that would make them tough to beat at home in Red Bull Arena, let alone on the road in Frisco.   Can the Red Bulls get out of Texas with a full three points?   A win this Sunday would put the entire league on notice, letting everyone know that last years Supporter's Shield was no fluke.

*Thanks to Dan Dickenson, super editor.