FC Dallas is back in the groove and will be looking to stay that way when it hosts struggling D.C. United on Tuesday for an Independence Night match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
After a stretch of three losses in five games created mostly by a brutal early season schedule, FC Dallas (7-3-7, 28 points in 17 matches) has regained its stride and is unbeaten in a five-match span across all competitions.
The latest step forward was a 3-1 win on Friday at home against then-Eastern Conference-leading Toronto FC in which Roland Lamah scored twice in the first 21 minutes and Maximiliano Urruti added a goal and an assist.
"We need to recover from the Toronto match and try to focus on D.C. United," Urruti said. "We need to get another three points to continue moving up the table. We have an opportunity to be at the top of the table so we need to play our best game."
The win sent FC Dallas into second place in the Western Conference, three points in back of Sporting Kansas City, which has played two more matches than FCD. Urruti's goal Friday was his 10th of the season and allowed him to match his career high; he is the club's first double-digit goal scorer since 2014.
FC Dallas will be forced to play its second straight match without two of its best players. Midfielder Kelly Acosta and defender Matt Hedges were with the U.S. national team on Saturday for its 2-1 win over Ghana and stayed with the national team for training in advance of the Gold Cup.
FCD also is without defenders Walker Zimmerman, who is working his pay back from a knee injury, and defender Maynor Figueroa, who is on international duty with Honduras.
The match concludes a three-games-in-eight-days home stretch for FC Dallas.
While the ship has been righted for Dallas, D.C. United (5-10-3) continues to struggle with three league losses in its past five matches and the fewest points (18 points in 18 matches) and the worst goal differential in the Eastern Conference (minus-15).
D.C. United heads to north Texas on the heels of a 2-0 loss on Saturday at Montreal. United gave up two goals in the first half and was forced to try to come back against an Impact team that focused on defense and counterattacking for the final 45 minutes.
D.C. United will be playing its fourth straight road match between the league and U.S. Open Cup in 11 days. United has lost the previous three outings, including U.S. Open Cup elimination at the hands of New England.
"We have to play better, grind out results and find the goals any way we can," D.C. United midfielder Ian Harkes said after the loss to Montreal. "They got two chances and they capitalized. We have to find ways to win."
D.C. United will play Tuesday's match without goalkeeper Bill Hamid (who is with the U.S. men's national team) and defender Bobby Boswell and forward Patrick Mullins, who are battling groin and knee injuries, respectively.