FRISCO, Texas — Don’t tell FC Dallas about their 0-2-0 record at Rio Tinto Stadium. They don’t want to hear it.
“Like I said to our players, I think we’re going to win this game,” Hyndman said.
Don’t take the FCD manager’s confidence to mean he isn’t aware that RSL haven’t lost since these sides last met back on July 17 and are riding a 24 game unbeaten streak at home.
WATCH: RSL talk about FCD match
“In my opinion, they’re the best team in the league player for player,” Hyndman said. “It’s very hard to beat them at home. We do have a little bit of an edge on them because we beat them. They’ve learned from their mistakes trying to adjust to us [by playing a different formation last time]. It’s going to be a battle.”
And his players are more than aware of how formidable the RSL midfield has been dating back to their run to the 2009 MLS Cup.
“A lot of our game goes through our midfield,” defender Heath Pearce said. “It will be a tough game to play through the center. With [Kyle] Beckerman, Will Johnson and others in that diamond midfield, they’re a strong squad. They close off gaps well. They defend well as a team. Any time they play home or away, they’re tough to beat.”
RSL have, indeed, defended well all year. They have conceded just 18 goals this season, but they have been downright stingy at home with only seven goals allowed. With a goal differential of plus-23, RSL have also been dangerous going forward.
[inline_node:320622]“I think they know their roles and they’re all very interchangeable,” midfielder Dax McCarty said. “On top of that, I think their coaching staff puts a lot of emphasis on technical ability. Technically, they are probably one of the better teams in the league in the midfield,”
“They interchange their positions very well and kind of have a free reign to sort of go into the central midfield, play make and do whatever.”
The fifth-year midfielder knows that crowding the middle of the pitch means he and his teammates will have to work the flanks effectively in order to be successful.
“It’s definitely a double-edged sword for us. The space for us will be out wide and they’ll definitely have a couple of numbers up in the middle of the field on us,” McCarty said. “It’s definitely going to be a battle in there. We’re just going to have to play quicker and make sure that we close down their playmakers so they don’t have time and space to play the ball.”
RSL have not lost a game since their July matchup with FCD. The Hoops have since compiled an MLS record 19 straight games without suffering a loss, while RSL will have their own home unbeaten streak on the line. A tie would ensure that both streaks remain alive.
[inline_node:315482]“Whether the streak ends this week for FC Dallas, it’s still a hell of an accomplishment," Hyndman said. "If it doesn’t end, then it just continues to show the quality of this team.”
Saturday’s game will also mark the second chance for FCD striker Jeff Cunningham to become the league’s all-time scoring leader. Cunningham tied Jaime Moreno’s record of 132 career goals against the Chicago Fire on Oct. 2, but failed to score last weekend against the Rapids.
Now he gets a shot against RSL, where he played in 2006 and for part of 2007. He compiled 19 goals and 11 assists for the club, and won the Golden Boot with them in 2006.
“I know Jeff thinks about it a lot more than I do,” Hyndman said. “He was at Salt Lake and was able to beat Jason Kreis’ record. Now he’s also in the situation where he can set the all-time leading goal mark for MLS. It’s a huge game for him. These next few games are all huge for him.”