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FC Dallas-United Preview
By MATT BECKER
(AP) -- Things appear to be looking up for FC Dallas, which expects to have two of its top players back Friday night and is optimistic about its leading scorer returning.
D.C. United is also in good spirits having earned their first point last weekend.
A healthy FC Dallas team tries to bounce back from its first loss when it visits United, who are hoping to build on an encouraging performance.
After opening with a 2-1 win over New York on March 11, FC Dallas tied Portland 1-1 on March 17 and lost 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
The team was without star midfielder Brek Shea (international duty) and forward Fabian Castillo (knee) for the last two matches, and the lack of offense was obvious.
FC Dallas (1-1-1) had six shots on goal against the Red Bulls but combined for four versus the Timbers and Sporting.
Coach Schellas Hyndman also lost leading scorer Ricardo Villar for the entire second half Sunday after he was taken out by a hard tackle from Sporting's Chance Meyers in the 35th minute. Just 10 minutes before the collision, Villar scored his second goal of the season on a free kick.
Although Villar had to leave the field on a stretcher, Hyndman believes he won't miss this contest.
"Villar is one of our toughest players," he told MLS' official website. "Mentally, I think the boy has been with injuries that most people would be sidelined with."
Hyndman's biggest concern entering Friday's match is keeping Dwayne De Rosario from scoring.
The 2011 MLS MVP had 16 goals in league play last season, and Hyndman doesn't want his first one of 2012 to come against his team.
"He was really a difference maker last year," Hyndman said. "He can play up front. He can play attacking midfield. He's a player that if you let him do what he wants to do, he'll hurt you."
Despite having De Rosario on the attack, D.C. has scored one goal in opening 0-2-1.
Although United, who played to a pair of scoreless draws against FC Dallas last season, aren't generating the offense they would like, they kept Vancouver from getting a shot on goal Saturday and came away with a point in a scoreless tie.
"It's huge. It's a lift of confidence," De Rosario said. "I think defensively we limited their chances, they didn't really have much. Offensively I think we created some pretty decent chances, just that final ball once we clean that up I think we'll be fine. It's a point that I think we can walk out of here and keep our heads high and I look forward to next game at home."
Playing at RFK Stadium hasn't offered much of an advantage to D.C., however. It had the league's second-worst home record last season at 4-5-8 and opened 2012 with a 1-0 loss to Kansas City on March 10.
Backup goalie Joe Willis is expected to make his third start for United on Friday with Bill Hamid recovering from a sprained left ankle sustained Monday while playing for the U.S. under-23 team at the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
Updated March 29, 2012