Before heading to the airport on Thursday, the FC Dallas players and coaches were going to watch video of San Jose’s 2-1 win in Houston on Sunday night. It’s a sure bet that they focused a great deal on Earthquakes Designated Player Geovanni, who had a goal and an assist in the victory at Robertson Stadium.
In the sixth minute, the second forward sent a nice cross to teammate Khari Stephenson and the Jamaican international finished beautifully for his first MLS goal. About an hour later, Geovanni scored his MLS first, beating veteran Dynamo keeper Pat Onstad for the game winner.
On Saturday night, FCD will put their league-record 10-game road unbeaten streak on the line when they face San Jose at Buck Shaw Stadium. It’s a safe bet that limiting the damage Geovanni can do is high on head coach Schellas Hyndman’s list of priorities.
“[San Jose] a very good team. They’ve made themselves better with Geovanni and Stephenson,” the FCD manager said. “Geovanni has got a great resume. He’s very technical, very quick, a difference maker. He’s what you look for in your Designated Player: someone that can make a difference.”
While the Texas side will be aware Geovanni at all times, it won’t change their focus away from home.
“For us, it’s back to business, going in there, playing our team structure and seeing if we can get ourselves over this 40-point position,” Hyndman said.
Some FCD starters have familiarized themselves with Geovanni and know the danger he can cause, especially captain Daniel Hernandez.
“Everybody knows he’s a great player,” Hernandez said. “We know he’s going to be [dangerous], especially in the attacking midfield spot. We’re going to try to do our best with two new center fullbacks we’re playing with.”
“We’ve just got to be aware of where he is and make sure he can’t get into open spaces,” rookie center back Zach Loyd added. “The main thing is communication and trying to get someone near him at all times.”
Loyd, who has been filling in for injured center back Ugo Ihemelu since the veteran’s concussion, will likely be one of two rookies to start at center back for FCD on Saturday, alongside Jackson.
Jackson came on for George John last week when John left the game with a hamstring injury. Since John hasn’t practiced at all this week and looks doubtful at best for this weekend, the Brazilian seems like the best bet to fill in again.
Having two rookies behind him, Hernandez knows that he and fellow central midfielder Eric Alexander have to step up their game.
“Of course, Zach has been playing there for a little bit, but our regular starters aren’t there,” said Hernandez. “I think me and Eric Alexander are going to have to do a really better job this week of helping out, supporting those center backs and making sure we do everything we can to close out the gap between us and the center backs.
“[Finding the gaps is] probably Geovanni’s strongest point. He looks for that space behind defensive midfielders and in front of the defense. We just have to be aware of it.”