FC Dallas-New York CIty FC preview
One of the most anticipated matchups of the MLS season takes place Saturday at Yankee Stadium, where New York City FC puts a five-match home streak on the line against U.S. Open Cut titlist FC Dallas.
FC Dallas enters the match atop the Western Conference with a 15-6-8 record and plus-8 goal difference ahead of second-place Los Angeles (11-14-4).
New York City FC is in third in the Eastern Conference at 12-8-9. It is tied on points with the second-place New York Red Bulls with 44 but its goal differential at minus-1 is well behind the Red Bulls (plus-12).
Leading the Eastern Conference is Toronto FC, which is 13-7-8 with 46 points and also a plus-12 goal differential.
New York City FC, coached by Patrick Vieira, still has an opportunity to finish at the top of the standings, which would qualify it for next season's CONCACAF Champions League. Vieira's team has won five straight in front of its home fans and also has performed well the whole season against the West's best teams.
NYCFC dominated the Colorado Rapids 5-1 and achieved an impressive sweep of LA Galaxy. FC Dallas presents the greatest challenge, however, with Oscar Pareja's team featuring playmaker Mauro Diaz and the center back pairing of Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges.
FC Dallas is playing on only three days' rest after defeating the New England Revolution on Tuesday night to capture the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Pareja's team also leads the MLS Supporters Shield award chase with the league's best regular-season record. Pareja hopes his team does not overexert itself with the multiple competitions.
"It has been tough to face all three competitions, and not just three competitions, but four competitions as we have five players in international duty," Pareja said. "They are playing the Open Cup. They are playing CONCACAF (Champions League). They play in the league. They play national team qualifications. We need to be smart with them. There's not too much you can do when you have to face so many competitions."
New York City FC is coming off a 3-1 loss at New England last Saturday, a setback that knocked it from the top spot of the Eastern Conference.
"We just weren't good enough to get what we wanted out of the match," said fullback RJ Allen. "Overall we just need to be better. I think we need to learn from this. ... We have two home games coming up, two of the most important games of the year, and six points is a must."
Updated September 16, 2016