FC Dallas will look to its home-pitch advantage to try to snap a two-match losing streak when it hosts surging Minnesota United on Saturday evening at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
The Huntsmen, who fell 2-1 at Seattle on Aug. 11 in their most recent match, are still atop the Western Conference standings (12-5-6, 42 points), but losses in their past two games have sliced their lead to three points over Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles FC.
Dallas' only goal in last week's setback came from striker Dominique Badji, who was playing in his first match with the team after being obtained in a trade with Colorado on July 23. Badji's goal in the 53rd minute evened the match.
FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said it was good for the new forward to score in his debut.
"It was very important for Dominique to debut and have that goal," Pareja said. "I think it's a great way to come into the game. We still have many games in front of us.
"I'm very proud of our players, very proud in such a difficult environment (against Seattle)."
FC Dallas finished the match with 10 men after Reto Ziegler was sent off for violent conduct in stoppage time as the Huntsmen pressed for the equalizer.
While Dallas is firmly entrenched in the playoff picture as the season heads to its final quarter, Minnesota United FC is still on the outside looking in. The Loons (9-13-2, 29 points) are in ninth place in the 12-team Western Conference, six points below the line, but a rally for a 2-2 draw on the road at the L.A. Galaxy on Aug. 11 gives them some hope for the season's final stretch.
After the Loons fell behind in the opening 10 minutes, Michael Boxall leveled the match in the 64th minute. The Galaxy regained the lead in the 73rd minute until Romario Ibarra scored his first MLS goal six minutes from full time to secure an important road point for Minnesota, its first in more than five months.
"I am so pleased for the players tonight," Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said after the draw in Los Angeles. "One of the things we spoke about was when we have moments in the game you have to score, and tonight we did.
"For a lot of our good play on the road, sometimes we have not got what we deserved. Tonight, we did. Overall it does give us something to build on for another difficult away game this week.
"If we can pick up some (road) wins, we give ourselves an opportunity to make it to the playoffs. Our away form has not been good enough, but against L.A. we showed glimpses of (what we can do)."
This is the second meeting this season between the sides, with FC Dallas winning 1-0 on Jun 29 at TCF Bank Stadium on a 59th-minute goal by Roland Lamah. Overall, Dallas owns a 2-1 edge over Minnesota United in three matches between the teams.