Real Salt Lake faces FC Dallas' high-octane offense
Sandy • Jeff Cassar knows the roots of FC Dallas' unrelenting, all-out style of offensive play. He played with Oscar Pareja in Dallas for three seasons and sees distinct similarities between the approach Pareja took as a player and now as a coach leading his former club.
It's producing a flurry of goals and results as Pareja, the former coach of the Colorado Rapids, has FC Dallas (11-7-6, 39 points) three points behind first-place Real Salt Lake (11-4-9, 42 points) ahead of Friday's matchup at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
"You can see his team plays with passion, they play with conviction going forward and they have a lot of bite to them as well," Cassar said. "They can make it nasty if they want to and they can play good soccer when they want to."
Dallas is riding an unbeaten streak of nine, going 6-0-3 in its last nine Major League Soccer matches, while RSL enters another high-profile Western Conference showcase unbeaten in its last six at 4-0-2.
It's hot vs. hotter in what promises to be a scorching night in Frisco on Friday as forecasts indicate a high of nearly 100 degrees and guaranteed humidity. Dallas' attack has scored 43 goals in 24 matches, more than any other team in MLS. The electrifying 22-year-old Fabian Castillo is enjoying a breakout season with eight goals and four assists, while rookie Tesho Akindele already has seven goals.
"They're a team that is obviously very confident in what they're doing, unbeaten in their last nine and are a very dangerous team," RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy said. "We need to make sure we start the game the right way and really just make good decisions."
Where's the new guy?
RSL's newest striker could be in town by the end of the week. Incoming designated player Sebastian Jaime, the 27-year-old Argentinian who the club signed from Chile's Union Espanola on Aug. 8, remains awaiting the approval of paperwork to step on a flight for his new home in Utah.
Cassar said Tuesday that Jaime's arrival could come as soon as Friday, but RSL will be in Dallas preparing for a match that night.
"I think everything's moving really along," Cassar said.
Jaime scored 39 goals in 124 career appearances with Union Espanola and helped lead the club to the Supercopa de Chile and Primera Division titles a year ago.
Cassar found midfielder Javier Morales in the Rio Tinto Stadium training room Tuesday morning and asked the 34-year-old midfielder if he was ready to train. Morales, still dealing with a hip injury picked up in RSL's 3-0 win over D.C. United on Aug. 9, said he wasn't. Morales missed Saturday's 2-1 win over Seattle and Cassar said the injury has left Morales' availability for FC Dallas on Friday up in the air.
"Obviously we're going to be cautious," he said. "It's kind of in a tricky little area where everyone's not quite sure exactly [when he'll return]: Is it tomorrow? Is it three days? Is it 10 days? That's just the honest truth."
Morales has six goals and a team-high nine assists in 22 games played in 2014.
Real Salt Lake at FC Dallas
O Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • NBC Sports