While every team has had an unusual 2020, FC Dallas may be the leaders in the clubhouse for the most unusual.
The MLS original picked up points in the first two matches of the year before being unable to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament. Due to not competing in Orlando, Dallas then played two matches against Nashville SC in mid-August to help both teams catch up with the rest of the league.
This led to a slow restart for FC Dallas. They didn't score a goal until their fourth return to play match but still managed to gain two points, through 0-0 draws.
Now that they've shrugged off their summer slump, they've scored in four straight matches and tallied 7 points in that stretch. Just as the Rapids on Saturday picked up a major rivalry victory, so did FC Dallas; Dallas dispatched the Houston Dynamo 2-1 at home with a 61st minute game-winner from Designated Player Franco Jara.
But even with the good news of points in the bag, Dallas has had to adapt to ongoing changes to its roster.
One of the most exciting young prospects, Homegrown Paxton Pomykal, has been sidelined for six months after successful knee surgery. On top of an injury to one Homegrown, FC Dallas transferred Homegrown Reggie Cannon to Portuegese side Boavista FC. The most recent roster evolution saw forward Zdeněk Ondrášek transferred to the Czech First League with FC Viktoria Plzeň.
Are we all caught up on FC Dallas' 2020 so far? Ok, good, onto the match. Three keys:
1. Keep an eye on forward Franco Jara.
His match-winning goal against the Dynamo was his second of 2020 and, without Ondrášek to spell him, the pressure will be on the first-year DP to tally goals in bunches. The Rapids defense hasn't conceded multiple goals in a match in nearly a month and just kept their first clean sheet of 2020 last game.
2. Welcome Andrés Ricaurte to MLS.
FC Dallas' new #10 made his first start and scored his first goal on Saturday after being acquired on loan from Colombia's Independiente Medellín through 2021. Whether it's Jack Price or Collen Warner in front of the backline, it will be a team effort to contain the new guy and prevent him from connecting the midfield to the attack.
3. Keep the foot on the gas.
Saturday's Rocky Mountain Cup match saw the Rapids scoring throughout - at the beginning of the match, just after halftime and at the end of the match. Meanwhile, FC Dallas hasn't kept a clean sheet since August 21st. The Rapids' confidence should be at a crest. This is one of those times where playing just a couple days after the previous match could work in our favor. Everybody will be champing at the bit to get back out there and get involved; The Rapids are tied with Minnesota United FC in the Western Conference with 10 different goalscorers in 2020.