2019 MLS Week 18 Preview — FC Dallas (7-5-7) vs. D.C. United (8-7-4)

Having squandered an opportunity to grab the Eastern Conference lead, D.C. United hope for better things outside the nation’s capital on the 4th of July in a matchup with FC Dallas.

The Black-and-Red are one point behind the Union in the East, part of a tight six-team logjam that was separated by only six points when the week began. As the Union and Impact were suffering losses on Saturday night, United (8-7-4) were fortunate to scrape out a 1-1 draw at home versus Toronto FC.

All-Star Wayne Rooney again accounted for United’s offense, this time converting a contentious penalty awarded by VAR in the 88th minute. While some of D.C.’s woes in attack can be attributed to winger Paul Arriola away with the U.S. on international duty at the Gold Cup, there was obvious disappointment of finishing a four-match homestand with only six of a possible 12 points despite not suffering a loss (1-0-3).

“I think it’s just a bit of composure and a bit of patience in the final third,” Rooney said when asked what has been lacking offensively. “I understand because we’ve played this game a long time and there’s nights like tonight that’s frustration and I’m thankful the game’s over and we came away with the point because we probably didn’t deserve (it).”

Rooney has factored in 17 of United’s 28 goals in all competitions with 12 goals and five assists. His 10 goals in league play are tied for third with Atlanta’s Josef Martinez, and England’s all-time leading goal-scorer has 24 goals and 12 assists in 41 matches since joining United almost exactly one year ago.

FC Dallas (7-5-7) is hoping a return home to Frisco provides a chance to regroup after suffering a 1-0 defeat at Portland on Sunday that dropped the Hoops to 1-1-1 since the Gold Cup recess. A shot by Brian Fernandez deflected off Dallas defender Matt Hedges and past Jesse Gonzalez for the lone goal in the 42nd minute, leaving Luchi Gonzalez’s side without a point despite an effort that arguably deserved at least one.

“We had some possession but we weren’t finishing plays,” Gonzalez said. “I thought the second half was fantastic, we pushed the game, I thought we went for it. I thought we put in the effort to tie this game … disappointed in the overall result but I’m proud for the group to push it.”

FC Dallas is 2-2-0 in its last four home games and 5-4-1 there overall, conceding just 10 goals. Gonzalez does have the option of inserting Bryan Acosta into his starting XI for this match after using the Honduras international as a sub in his first match back after competing in the Gold Cup.

The Hoops could also have winger Edwin Gyasi available for this match after signing him on a loan deal from CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria. The Dutch-born Gyasi, who has five caps for Ghana, totaled six goals and 10 assists in 50 matches with Sofia.

D.C. snapped a three-match losing streak to FC Dallas in last year’s lone meeting with a 1-0 victory on Russell Canouse’s goal in the 86th minute. The Black-and-Red, though, are winless in their last seven trips to Frisco (0-2-5) since a 4-0 victory in 2007.

(Frederic Brilliant photo courtesy D.C. United official Twitter account)

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