One day after a lightning strike outside Crew Stadium sent an off-duty firefighter to the hospital, short-handed FC Dallas looks to build on the momentum of its U.S. Open Cup success during the World Cup break Sunday when it faces the Crew.
The match originally scheduled for Saturday was postponed after a rapidly moving thunderstorm produced frequent lightning 15 minutes to kickoff. One strike landed in the stadium parking lot, sending Lt. Stu Tudor to the Ohio State medical center, where he is in intensive care.
It is uncertain if Tudor was struck by lightning, and Crew owner Anthony Precourt tweeted "safety is of the utmost importance" in the decision to postpone the match and that he was praying for the injured fire fighter.
FC Dallas (6-7-4) scored 17 goals during its 5-1-1 start but had just six in an ensuing 0-6-2 stretch that ended with a 3-2 win over Colorado on June 7. Including that victory, the club has 10 goals in its last four games across all competitions and has gone 3-0-1.
Dallas played to a 2-all draw with Portland on June 11 in its final league game before the break, then topped San Antonio and rival Houston in the U.S. Open Cup.
The club, though, is without Blas Perez and defender Moises Hernandez in this game after they drew red cards against Portland. Fabian Castillo will have to sit out the next four MLS games after reportedly berating and making contact with an official after that tie.
Castillo and Perez are among three players tied for the team lead with five goals. The other one, Michel, hasn't played since May 17 because of a strained right hamstring, and he's questionable for this game.
Even with all those players available, FC Dallas might have had a difficult time in Columbus, judging by its recent visits there and an 0-4-2 record in its last six road games. The club is 0-4-1 in its last five road games against the Crew, totaling two goals, and 1-11-6 in the past 18.
Columbus (4-5-6), though, enters this game 1-5-6 in its last 12 league contests and winless in the past three (0-1-2).
"We're ready to get back into action. It's been good with Open Cup to kind of fine-tune things," defender Chad Barson said. "It's our home, our fortress, our home fans. We should come out firing, step high on the other team and put them under a lot of pressure."
The Crew might have a better chance at starting a turnaround if they can get top goal scorer Federico Higuain back from an ailing hamstring.
Higuain has missed the past three games, including two in U.S. Open Cup play. Columbus was eliminated from that tournament with a 4-2 loss to Chicago on Wednesday.
Higuain had a goal and an assist in the lone matchup with Dallas last season, a 4-2 victory Sept. 29. He has two goals and three of his team-best five assists in his past three games.
Perez scored one of FC Dallas' goals in last season's loss, and the currently injured Mauro Diaz (knee) had the other.
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- FC Dallas