The Vancouver Whitecaps play host to FC Dallas on Saturday evening in a Western Conference matchup of huge importance for both teams' chances at a spot in the postseason.
The Whitecaps (7-8-9, 30 points) begin the weekend in ninth place in the West, four points and two spots in the standings below the playoff line. Beating an up-and-down team like Dallas, which is desperate for wins and points as well, is imperative for Vancouver, especially at home.
Vancouver heads back to British Columbia after securing a crucial road point in a 1-1 tie with Colorado on Sunday. Brian White scored the Whitecaps' goal, tying the match in the 41st minute. Vancouver is 4-1-5 in its past 10 games.
"We need to start the games better," Vancouver interim coach Vanni Sartini said after the tie with Colorado. "Now it's my fourth game in charge, and we always ended the game much better than we started. I'd like to see a game that we start on the front foot from minute one."
FC Dallas (6-11-9, 27 points) travels north of the border after a 3-2 loss in Houston on Sept. 18 in this year's final rendition of the Texas Derby. Dallas gave up three goals in the first 59 minutes, the final on a penalty kick, but pressured Houston to the finish thanks to a pair of tallies by suddenly dominant Jader Obrian.
Obrian scored in the 86th minute and again four minutes into stoppage time to record his second brace of the week. It was not enough to keep FC Dallas from falling to 11th place in the Western Conference with eight matches to play.
Saturday's game at Vancouver is FC Dallas' first with interim head coach Marco Ferruzzi at the helm. Ferruzzi takes over after Luchi Gonzalez was dismissed by the team earlier this week.
Dallas is now 2-4-4 in its past 10 matches, with both of its wins in that span coming against expansion Austin FC, the last-place team in the West.
The Whitecaps are two places and three points up on 11th-place Dallas in the standings, adding to the urgency of the meeting.
"Just by the numbers, three points for us takes away three points from a conference rival," Ferruzzi said. "That's the math. But really for us to get into flow and the idea of what all these games mean, it's not so much that it's Vancouver, they just happen to be the ones we're playing next."
The two teams played to a 2-2 draw in their only other meeting this season, on July 4 at Frisco, Texas.
--Field Level Media