Frisco, TX – FC Dallas Stadium will see a meeting between the league's best team and its worst on Saturday as FC Dallas hosts lowly D.C. United.
Dallas and D.C. are two teams quickly heading in opposite directions.
Schellas Hyndman's side suffered a 3-1 loss at Chivas USA on March 10 but has gone on to produce an eight-game unbeaten run since, posting a 5-0-3 record to climb to the Western Conference summit with 21 points.
United, meanwhile, picked up a win in its second contest of the season, defeating Real Salt Lake, 1-0, at RFK Stadium on March 9. But the club has struggled mightily since, going 0-6-1 over its next seven matches to remain rooted to the foot of the Eastern Conference table with just four points.
D.C. was on the wrong end of a 4-0 thrashing by the Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, a result that left head coach Ben Olsen frustrated and dumbfounded.
"We have to make some changes," Olsen said. "We have some part-time players. I still don't get how it takes a coach to throw things and yell at you to now play with aggression and with the right spirit. It's mind boggling to me. I don't get it. If that's what it takes, to get you to play desperate and with high concentration, some guys are in trouble. Some of this has to come from within. It's confusing to me. I'll look to make some moves and try to make some adjustments. We're getting some injured guys back soon."
Nothing has gone right for D.C. United this season. The club has conceded a league-high 17 goals in nine games while scoring a league-low four goals. United, without a goal in its four road matches this season, also has been held scoreless in six of its nine contests.
"Our fans don't deserve this," said midfielder Perry Kitchen. "Our organization doesn't deserve this. Hopefully we can just get one win and that can turn into something, but you know at this point, tough game, tough stretch."
Dallas is operating at the opposite end of the spectrum, though. Despite deploying a side of players who do not get regular minutes, the club still managed a 1-1 draw to the Portland Timbers on Wednesday to see its unbeaten streak extended to eight games.
"I was really concerned not having (Andrew Jacobson) in the center of the field," said Hyndman. "I was really concerned not having George (John) in the back and I was really concerned not having Jackson in the attack. That was my concern going into the game.
"At the end of the game, we had five players on the field who don't normally play that much. Fabian (Castillo) went the full 90. Je-Vaughn (Watson) went the full 90. Eric (Hassli) came on probably with a good 35 minutes when David (Ferreira) got hurt."
Ferreira's injury early in the second half was a worry, but Hyndman assured reporters that his substitution was merely a precaution.
"As a precaution, we wanted to make sure he stays healthy, and quite honestly, when you have a player like Eric Hassli coming in, he caused them a lot of problems," said Hyndman. "Eric and Blas (Perez) were very good tonight - combining, intelligence, working with each other. In the last few minutes of the game, (Donovan) Ricketts made a very good save. Those are strikers laying balls off to strikers. This is David's team and the team plays better with him. He dictates the game. But I thought our guys were prepared to go (without him)."