While New York City Football Club's playoff berth is secure, FC Dallas finds themselves jockeying with three conference opponents for the final Western Conference playoff spot. And when NYCFC and FC Dallas meet on Sunday in Frisco, Texas, the season could be on the line for the home team.
FC Dallas (12-11-8, 44 points), the San Jose Earthquakes, Portland Timbers and the Los Angeles Galaxy all have designs on at least the No. 7 spot in the conference heading into the final few games of the regular season. And while FC Dallas moved above the playoff line on Wednesday with a 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders, they will need to capitalize on scoring opportunities to advance to the postseason.
FC Dallas head into Sunday's game scoreless since Zdenek Ondrasek tallied in the 52nd minute of a 3-1 win over FC Cincinnati on Aug. 31. The team secured a point with the draw on Wednesday.
"That's a positive step for us," Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez told the team's website. "Now, take that foundation, (defensively), and implement a little more of an aggressive attack on to Sunday. Every point counts. The next opportunity is to maximize and get all three points."
NYCFC (16-5-9, 57 points) hold the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They are attempting to win their first regular-season conference title and enter their final four games on a seven-game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) since losing at Atlanta on Aug. 11.
"The goal is always to win the next game," NYCFC coach Domenec Torrent said to the team's official website. "This is how they are focused. If not, if you lose the focus, you are in trouble 100 percent. "The next game is Dallas, we have to be focused in Dallas, and after that I know how difficult it will be to play against Atlanta ... But the focus is Dallas, the next game."
NYCFC kept rolling with a 2-1 home win over San Jose on Sept. 14 when Keaton Parks scored his first MLS goal and Alexandru Mitrita netted the go-ahead goal in the 43rd minute.
Maximiliano Moralez, who has 18 assists and seven goals, missed last week's win with a hamstring injury but is expected to return. And FC Dallas midfielder Brandon Servania said his team will be focused on Moralez, "just trying to block passing lanes towards him and always being aware of where he is. Communications between the backs and the midfielders is going to be key."