Considering the tightness of the Western Conference playoff picture, every contest from here on out can be classified as crucial for any fringe team. But Saturday's meeting between the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas is particularly critical.
Colorado (11-8-9) sits in fourth in the West, just two points up on sixth-place Dallas (10-7-10), which has a game in hand. And both sides are coming off big conference wins last weekend — Colorado over LA, Dallas over Vancouver.
Dallas, which gets goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and striker Blas Perez (10 goals) back from international duty, also could have right back Zach Loyd (ACL sprain) available, though homegrown player Kellyn Acosta has performed admirably in his place.
Colorado, on the other hand, will get a Panamanian striker of its own back from World Cup qualifying as Gabriel Torres again enters the fold. The forward through two matches is still looking for his first MLS goal.
Keep an eye on central midfield, as Colorado's likely pair of Hendry Thomas and the returning Nathan Sturgis (glute) faces a fluctuating Dallas duo — most recently Andrew Jacobson and Erick. Whichever pairing wins the battle will be influential in deciding which playmaker gets more time on the ball: Dallas' David Ferreira or Colorado's Dillon Powers.
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