The Los Angeles Galaxy have overcome a bad start with consecutive wins, and host FC Dallas on Saturday night in another crucial early-season Western Conference showdown in Major League Soccer.
The Galaxy lost three of their first four matches this season, but have downed the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids in their last two games.
L.A. (3-3-0) leveled its record last week with three wins and three losses, as Josh Saunders stopped a penalty kick in stoppage time of a 2-1 victory against the Rapids in Colorado.
"These points at this time of year are important, especially in conference games so we're thankful we got out of (there) with three points," Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said.
"We haven't started real well, so it's important we piece some wins together."
"It's a big win. It's just a stepping stone to obviously what we want to achieve," L.A. star David Beckham added. "We didn't start the season off well but the last two games have been better, not just because we won the games but because we played as a team and we've done well."
L.A. will try to build on the road win at The Home Depot Center, where it has split its four matches this season. L.A. lost its opener to Real Salt Lake and also lost to the New England Revolution.
The Galaxy's woes have been largely defensive as they have allowed 10 goals so far this season. L.A. had 17 shutouts last season and allowed just 28 goals in 34 games, which tied for the fourth-fewest in league history.
L.A. has yet to post a shutout this season.
"It's reflective of not playing as well as we can on the defensive end of the field," Arena said. "If you don't have a shutout, it means you're not playing great defensively.
"We haven't been as good as we need to be, but we'll get there."
FC Dallas (3-3-2) has suffered through injury problems early this season, but managed a 1-1 tie against Real Salt Lake earlier this week. Brek Shea scored a penalty kick for Dallas' lone goal.
Dallas managed the result despite having Andrew Jacobson, David Ferreira and Ricardo Villar out through injury, and leading scorer Blas Perez suspended for the match.
"You can call it an emergency," Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. "I think when you go without four starters; it's becoming a bit of an emergency.
"I think every coach gets frustrated with the injuries. Unfortunately, it's part of the game and sometimes, it doesn't seem like it's fair."
It only got worse for Dallas, as Carlos Rodriguez suffered a dislocated elbow against Real. Jackson, recently recalled from his loan to Brazil's Cruzeiro, did make a late appearance, and could be in for a larger role against L.A.
"I was hoping to get Jackson on the field for the last 15 minutes," Hyndman said. "If we didn't need him, then I probably wouldn't have even put him on the field, but I felt that we needed to get something on the field that was at least going to be a threat."
In addition, goalkeeper Kevin Hartman pulled out of the game against Vancouver Whitecaps FC last week and also missed the match against Real. Chris Seitz had to fill in again, and made four saves against RSL.
"Last week when he went in, he wasn't prepared. Kevin got hurt in the warmups, so (Seitz) really wasn't nervous or scared, he just went in," Hyndman said.
"So I was very interested to see how he would respond in this game, being able to sleep on it and prepare himself mentally and I think that he had a good game."