FC Dallas-Crew Preview

Jeff Cunningham was a big reason FC Dallas reached the MLS Cup

in 2010. Now back with Columbus, the veteran forward has a chance

to make history against his former club if he can only get on the

field.

One shy of tying the record for most goals in MLS history,

Cunningham hopes to face his former team for the first time since

leaving Dallas when each club tries to record its first win of the

season Friday night at Crew Stadium.

The 34-year-old Cunningham recorded 34 of his 132 career goals

the previous three seasons with Dallas. He posted a team-high 12 in

2010, but declined to renew his contract with FCD and was selected

during the December re-entry draft by Columbus (0-1-1), where he

spent his first seven seasons.

Though he needs one goal to tie all-time MLS leader Jaime Moreno

and also become the Crew’s career leader with 63, it’s uncertain if

Cunningham will get the chance to accomplish both Friday.

After playing 61 minutes in a 3-1 loss to DC United on March 19,

Cunningham remained on the bench throughout the Crew’s scoreless

draw with New York on Saturday.

One reason for Cunningham’s benching could have been coach

Robert Warzycha’s displeasure with the team’s distribution of the

ball in the opener. Things were not much better versus New

York.

“Offensively, we lack something right now,” goalkeeper William

Hesmer told the Crew’s official website. “It seems we have lots of

guys capable of dribbling, wiggling and juking, but no one has yet

to step up with that killer instinct.”

Dallas (0-1-1) finds itself in a similar situation without

Cunningham through the first two matches.

Fourth in MLS last season with 42 goals, Dallas has only a

Milton Rodriguez goal in their season-opening draw with Chicago.

More troubling was that it did not register a shot on goal in

Saturday’s 2-0 loss to San Jose until the 55th minute.

Dallas could get a boost after highly touted Colombian forward

Fabian Castillo made his debut against the Earthquakes. The

18-year-old Castillo, who had three goals in 10 professional

matches in Colombia, impressed coach Schellas Hyndman.

“I thought he was very good,” Hyndman told FC Dallas’ official

website. “He’s very explosive, which he showed when I went to

Colombia. He’s a player that moves as quick with the ball at his

feet as he does without it.”

Dallas also could benefit from the expected return of midfielder

Brek Shea, who missed Saturday’s loss after he received a red card

versus Chicago. Shea had five goals and four assists in 2010, with

two more assists in the playoffs.

While Dallas is off to a slow start, there is no need to panic

after it opened 0-1-4 last season before regrouping to come within

a goal of winning the franchise’s first MLS Cup.

“I think (slow starts) are probably more of my trend as a coach,

as a builder,” Hyndman said. “Of course it’s not what we want – two

home games and only one point – but I think we are a team that’s

going to get better.”

After two ties in 2010, the all-time series between Dallas and

Columbus sits at 15-15-8.