FC Dallas (10-3-5, 35 points) will look to improve on their 6-0-4 home record — and stay in first place in the Western Conference — when they play host to the Chicago Fire on Saturday night in the Brimstone Cup.
Dallas is unbeaten at home this season, but that streak came very close to ending in its last match at Toyota Stadium.
In a matchup of conference leaders, Dallas trailed Atlanta United by a goal until substitute Tesho Akindele scored twice in the final four minutes of regulation for a 3-2 victory on July 4.
Akindele credited some advice from coach Oscar Pareja for making the difference.
“Oscar told me when I come in I have to make a difference, the game can’t just stay the same,” Akindele said. “So I tried to make sure once I came in I could change the game.”
The Fire (6-9-5, 23 points), who have eight players listed as out on the injury report, are coming off a demoralizing 4-3 home loss to the Philadelphia Union.
Chicago rallied three times to tie the score, including a stoppage-time goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger, only to allow the winner a minute later to former Fire player David Accam.
“We conceded very soft goals, I think in the first half especially, and we conceded too many opportunities,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “It was our image during the whole year. We could change it in some moments for some time, but we don’t have the consistency to improve.”
Chicago announced Thursday it had signed Argentine defender Nicolas Del Grecco, but he will not be available for Saturday’s match as he awaits his visa.
Dallas, which only has Cristian Colman (ankle) listed on the injury report, is coming off a 2-0 loss last Saturday at Real Salt Lake.
“Overall I thought the team looked tired today, but we will reshape,” Pareja said. “It was not a night we can say we did a lot of good things.”
Chicago is led offensively by Aleksander Katai and Nemanja Nikolic, who have scored nine goals apiece. Nikolic was the MLS Golden Boot Award winner last season, when he had 24 goals. Roland Lamah leads Dallas with seven goals, with Maximiliano Urruti right behind with six.
Dallas holds a 21-16-4 edge in the all-time series, including 13-4-2 at home. The series has been known as the Brimstone Cup since 2001.
—Field Level Media