Javier Morales (left) and Real Salt Lake open their title defense against Jair Benitez and FC Dallas on Saturday night at Pizza Hut Park.
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FSC's Dunseth: Issues for FCD, RSL ahead of opener

NEW YORK – Fox Soccer Channel broadcaster Brian Dunseth has some concerns about FC Dallas as he prepares to broadcast the Hoops’ Western Conference semifinals series against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.

“When you have been good for so long and take two consecutive losses [vs. RSL and LA in regular season] and you’re dealing with injuries, what type of team is going to show up on Saturday?” Dunseth said. “Lots of question marks for Schellas [Hyndman] right now and for the team, and we’ll see where the confidence is at.”

Hyndman’s biggest decision is whether to give veteran goalkeeper Kevin Hartman his first start since Sept. 16. He has intimated that Daniel Hernandez will return to the starting XI and that Milton Rodriguez and Jeff Cunningham could play together up top.

Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, are coming off a last-gasp draw against Colorado in the season finale last weekend at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The result came after a crowded last stretch of the season in which RSL balanced MLS play with a taxing schedule in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“I think we’d be crazy to think that they [RSL] are at 100 percent right now,” Dunseth said. “It’s just not a realistic expectation. Jason Kreis has selection issues with some players playing well and big players not as sharp as they individually would hope to be in this part of the season.”

One player Dunseth expects to see on the pitch is RSL midfielder Will Johnson, who has been hampered with a hamstring injury and was pulled out of practice earlier this week.

“That guy never, ever wants to be off the field, whether it’s a scrimmage at BYU or in MLS Cup, when he took the field with food poisoning,” Dunseth said.

Regardless of who takes the field for RSL, Dunseth feels that the defending champs have acquired a mentality of figuring out a way to get results even when they’re not at their best.

They will be challenged by an FC Dallas team which Dunseth says can dominate when they are able to keep possession and force the other team to chase. They also have an ability to cause defensive breakdowns by drawing opposing defenders out of position and attack the spaces they leave behind.

But with all of the tactical considerations, Dunseth, who played for both clubs in his MLS career, will be especially focused on the attitude that Hyndman’s team brings to Saturday’s match at Pizza Hut Park.

“Dallas is a cornered team,” he said. “They haven’t played well after being undefeated. Now the question is: are they going to come out like a cornered cat or come out and say they’re good enough to compete against the champs?”

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