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Vancouver, Dallas feel pinch of MLS scheduling over FIFA dates

AT&T MLS All Star Game - Chelsea v MLS All Stars

CHESTER, PA - JULY 25: Romelu Lukaku #18 of Chelsea handles the ball against Jay DeMerit #6 of MLS All-Stars during the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park on July 25, 2012 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

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Nowhere will the sticky issue of playing over FIFA international dates be more contentious and affecting than in Vancouver.

Six Major League Soccer teams play on Wednesday, a designated FIFA fixture date for internationals. FIFA rules require that teams release players for these dates, but doesn’t mandate that clubs or leagues necessarily vacate the date.

Hence, FC Dallas travels to Vancouver in one of three matches.

FC Dallas will be without three important internationals: Brek Shea (U.S.), Julian de Guzman (Canada) and Carlos Rodriguez (Panama). Shea is the toughest blow, although both of the others have started games recently.

But they’ll get zero sympathy from Vancouver, where defender Carlyle Mitchell, wingers Dane Richards and Russell Teibert and strikers Etienne Barbara and Darren Mattocks will be away with their national teams.

Mattocks and Richards are the only starters in the group, and they are important ones. Kenny Miller, the team’s freshly arrived Scottish international, softens the Mattocks blow, at least.

Now, however, Jay DeMerit has been ruled out after a collision last week with goalkeeper Brad Knighton. And midfielder Gershon Koffie, who is having such a great season, will miss due to yellow card accumulation.

As for DeMerit (pictured, on left), the club’s aggressiveness in the summer transfer window will pay off here, too. Andy O’Brien was another recent acquisition; his presence should mostly mitigate DeMerit’s absence.