FC Dallas will look to stretch its MLS unbeaten streak at home to 11 games and stay atop the Western Conference standings when it hosts the Chicago Fire on Saturday at Toyota Stadium in the north Dallas suburb of Frisco in the latest edition of the Brimstone Cup rivalry.
The two teams’ long-standing rivalry dates back to the early days of MLS (when FC Dallas was called the Dallas Burn, thus the Brimstone moniker) as the sides regularly played four or five times a season.
Since expansion and conference re-alignment, the sides have met once on an annual basis since 2012 but the hardware on the line remains the same.
“In my mind it’s only FC Dallas, and these three points,” FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler said. “We need these three points because we want to stay in the first position. Of course, we respect our opponent, but this game has to be for us.”
Dallas (10-3-5, 35 points) sits in first place in the West with Los Angeles FC and Sporting Kansas City hot on its heels. The Huntsmen lost at Real Salt Lake 2-0 on July 7 in their most recent match, handing Dallas just its second defeat in its past 11 league contests.
“Overall I thought the team looked tired (against Real Salt Lake), but we will reshape,” FCD coach Oscar Pareja said after the loss. “It was not a night we can say we did a lot of good things.”
“We were a bit disappointed with the game in Salt Lake,” Ziegler added. “I think we can do much better than that and it was not our best day.”
Meanwhile, the Fire (6-9-5, 23 points) were the loser in a wild back-and-forth affair on Wednesday, falling at home 4-3 to Philadelphia.
Chicago rallied to level the match three times, first when Nemanja Nikolic scored from the penalty spot to stretch a personal scoring streak to three straight games and then as Aleksandar Katai tied the match at 2-2 in the 69th minute.
After Philadelphia retook the lead in the 73rd minute, the Fire found a stoppage-time equalizer by Bastian Schweinsteiger, only to concede one minute later as former Fire player David Accam netted the late winner for the Union.
“It’s very, very similar to the start of the season — the game against Sporting Kansas City,” Chicago coach Veljko Paunovic said after the loss. “We conceded very soft goals, I think in the first half especially, and we conceded too many opportunities.
“It was our image during the whole year. We could change it in some moments for some time, but we don’t have the consistency to improve.”
FC Dallas and Chicago have played 41 times, with Dallas holding a 21-16 edge with four draws. Dallas has won 13 of the 19 matches played in north Texas, with two draws, and captured the most recent game in the Lone Star State 3-1 on July 16, 2016. The Fire won last year’s match between the two sides 3-0.