A poor road record in 2012 contributed to FC Dallas' first playoff absence in three years. So did its inability to beat Western Conference cellar dweller Chivas USA.
After winning its season opener, Dallas will try to get off to a better start on the road beginning with Sunday's matchup against new-look Chivas.
Two years removed from an appearance in the MLS Cup, FC Dallas finished sixth in the West and five points out of a playoff berth last season largely due to a 3-10-4 record on the road. Dallas was 0-7-1 in its first eight games away from home.
The team took its first step toward returning to the postseason with a 1-0 home victory over Colorado last Saturday. Jackson scored the lone goal in the 11th minute, and Raul Fernandez made three saves in his MLS debut.
The two will next try to help FC Dallas (1-0-0) earn its first win in four tries against Chivas (0-1-0). The teams played to draws in all three meetings last season, including a 1-all tie at The Home Depot Center on Oct. 7.
In its season finale three weeks later, Dallas blew a 2-0 lead over visiting Chivas by conceding a pair of goals in stoppage time.
"I think that kind of spoke volumes about where we were last year," coach Schellas Hyndman told the team's website.
In this match, FC Dallas will face a revamped Chivas squad led by new coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, also known as "Chelis." He took over after Robin Fraser failed to end a playoff drought that's now reached three years.
"It's a little bit questionable about what they're going to do and who they're going to play. So it's a little bit of an unknown," Hyndman said. "What we worked on this week was ourselves, and I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of progress we made."
Seven players made their MLS debuts in Chivas' 3-0 home loss to Columbus last Saturday.
"We have to adapt before the next match to get points," the Spanish-speaking Sola said. "I can't make a prediction about how long it will take us to make adjustments."
FC Dallas is 4-0-3 in its last seven games in the series and 2-0-1 in its past three visits to Chivas, but won't have Blas Perez for this game.
The forward, who scored a team-best nine goals in 2012, is finishing a two-game suspension stemming from an incident in last season's finale against Chivas. Perez also was given an undisclosed fine for what the league website said was "violent conduct that endangered the safety of (Chivas defender) Bobby Burling."