When FC Dallas last played, it managed to secure sole possession of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Two weeks later when Dallas hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, both teams are on the outside looking in.
These teams are tied for sixth in the West, and only the top five receive postseason berths. Dallas was alone in fifth after rallying from a two-goal deficit to tie San Jose 2-2 on Aug. 24, but the team hasn’t played since that day and has been passed by Seattle.
FC Dallas (9-7-10) will be without leading scorer Blas Perez, currently with Panama’s national team. The forward has notched points in four straight games, including three goals.
Dallas also will be without Kenny Cooper, tied for second on the team with three goals, as he begins serving a two-game suspension. Goalkeeper Raul Fernandez won’t be available as he is with Peru’s national team.
Fernandez’s spot will be assumed by Chris Seitz, 2-0-1 in three starts for FC Dallas this season.
“Teams always build from the back and we have a really strong back line and goalkeeping situation that I think we can build off of and hopefully continue that through and make a run late,” Seitz told the team’s official site.
Seitz could be tested if Saturday is at all like the teams’ last matchup, when Vancouver tallied a season-high 27 shots in a 2-2 draw April 27.
In Texas, however, Dallas has held court, winning all three matchups without surrendering a goal.
“We know how they play, this isn’t our first time playing them and we’re well aware of their threats,” Seitz said.
While their opponent will be short-handed, the Whitecaps (10-9-7) will get at least one familiar face back and possibly two. Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker is returning from a one-game suspension, and captain Jay DeMerit may play after traveling with the team. The center back has been out since rupturing his Achilles tendon in the season opener March 2.
In Reo-Coker’s absence, Kekuta Manneh earned a rare start Sunday and tallied an assist along with a team-high four shots as Vancouver came back from an early deficit to earn a 2-2 tie against Chivas USA.
It was Manneh’s biggest performance since he notched a goal and an assist, both MLS firsts for the 18-year-old forward, in the last meeting with Dallas.
Tommy Heinemann assisted on Manneh’s first career goal and didn’t record another point until completing Sunday’s rally with a stoppage-time goal.
“It means a lot,” Heinemann said. “I think tonight’s (fans) deserve more, but at least we got one (point).”
The Whitecaps had 19 shots, their highest total since July 14, but just four were on goal. They’ve scored just six goals in their last seven games while going 1-4-2.
“We just have to keep shooting, keep taking our chances and the goals will come,” midfielder Matt Watson told the club’s official website. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t turn away from shots. I think maybe we’re thinking, ‘I don’t want to miss, I don’t want to miss.’ We’ve just got to take the shots and the goals will come.”
Vancouver has been limited to 11 goals on the road, posting a 2-7-3 record.
The Dallas offense, meanwhile, has nine goals over the last four matches after going scoreless in five straight.