FC Dallas-Earthquakes Preview

The Associated Press

Surging FC Dallas will have to figure out a way to end its troubles against the San Jose Earthquakes to extend its longest undefeated streak of the season.

Dallas looks to continue its climb in the Western Conference and stretch its unbeaten run to nine games Saturday night when it goes after its first victory in Santa Clara in five seasons.

Dallas has been one of MLS' hottest clubs with a 5-0-3 record in league play since a 2-1 home defeat to San Jose on May 31. It also had gone 8-0-3 across all competitions before Tuesday's loss to Philadelphia on penalty kicks in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.

Fabian Castillo provided the game-tying goal in the 81st minute to force extra time Tuesday, extending Dallas' longest unbeaten stretch in regulation across all competitions since going 10-0-9 in 2010, when it last reached the MLS Cup.

Dallas is riding its longest undefeated run in league play since a nine-game span March 17-May 11 of last season.

Castillo scored in each of the four U.S. Open Cup matches over the past two months and has a goal in seven of eight overall. Tesho Akindele has added three in his last five MLS matches for Dallas (10-7-6), which is five points behind league-leading Seattle in the West.

Mauro Diaz made his first start since April 26 in last Saturday's 3-1 home win over Colorado. The midfielder had come off the bench in four matches since missing 10 with a knee injury.

"Mauro is a key player for us in the middle," center back Matt Hedges told the league's official website. "To get him back fit and be able to start games is going to be a big thing for us going forward."

The eighth-place Earthquakes (6-8-6) have some work to do if they hope to reach the playoffs for the third time in seven seasons. They're eight points back of the final playoff spot in the West.

San Jose, however, has given Dallas everything it could handle in recent seasons, including victories in both meetings this year.

An own goal in the second half was the difference in a 2-1 home win May 10 before the Earthquakes won by the same score at Dallas three weeks later. Former Dallas midfielder Atiba Harris has three goals in his last three meetings.

San Jose is 6-1-3 against Dallas since the start of the 2011 season and hasn't lost in six meetings at home since 2009, winning four of the past five.

The Earthquakes had won back-to-back games before a 2-all draw at Los Angeles on Friday, though they earned a point for a fourth straight match following a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Star forward Chris Wondolowski finished with a goal and an assist, giving him three of each in five games since returning from the World Cup.

Matias Perez Garcia, a transfer from Argentina, made an impact in his MLS debut by scoring in the 31st minute.

"The goal is very important for my confidence," Perez Garcia said. "I'm looking forward to the next game."

Blas Perez has four goals and an assist in five career meetings with San Jose but hasn't won any of them.

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