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FC Dallas looks to get back on track vs. Rapids

FC Dallas will look to shake off a rare case of midseason doldrums when it hosts the reeling Colorado Rapids on Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

FC Dallas (9-5-7, 34 points) heads home after a 3-1 loss at Philadelphia last Saturday and a 4-0 defeat at home to Vancouver in which it was dominated in both matches.

The two losses were shocking, especially after FC Dallas had forged a string of five straight unbeaten games and is just the second time this season that the team has dropped back-to-back contests.

The losses have dropped FC Dallas back into the pack in the Western Conference standings and three points in back of league-leading Sporting Kansas City in the table. FC Dallas' nine victories match six other teams but it has two games in hand with every team above the playoff line and has played three matches less than Portland, which also has 34 points.

FC Dallas has earned just three points from its past three matches, even though all those games were against clubs below the playoff line in their conferences.

FC Dallas midfielder Victor Ulloa said the team just needs to stick to fundamentals.

"We always preach about keeping the zero and the shutout, and that we can score at any moment," Ulloa said. "Also, I think we are missing the final touch in the last third. We've created chances, but unfortunately we dug ourselves deep holes and it is hard to come back from that."

FC Dallas still has the league's highest points-per-game average, and score an average 2.23 points per home match in regular-season action under coach Oscar Pareja. The latter marks the highest such statistic in the league since Pareja took over at the start of the 2014 MLS season.

Colorado (6-12-3, 21 points) travels to north Texas on the heels of a 2-2 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps last Saturday in which the Rapids led until the waning moments.

The Rapids enter Saturday's match as the last place team in the Western Conference. Colorado has averaged just a single point per outing in 21 MLS matches; only D.C. United (0.83) and Minnesota United (0.96) are averaging less points per match.

Colorado has struggled mightily on the road this season with an 0-8-1 mark away from Commerce City. The Rapids have not won in their last 10 road games, marking the seventh time in franchise history that they have had a 10-game road winless streak.

If they fail to win against Dallas, it will tie for the third longest winless streak in franchise history at 11. The Rapids have five road trips in the next six matches, and all of those away matches are against Western Conference opponents. Eleven points separate the Rapids from postseason position.

With 13 games remaining on the Rapids' regular-season schedule, there is plenty of belief in the Denver suburbs that a playoff spot is still within reach.

With games in hand over Minnesota, LA, Salt Lake and San Jose -- four of the five teams directly ahead of the Rapids in the Western Conference standings -- Colorado will need to make the most of its remaining contests.

"The mentality has to be steely," Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni said Tuesday after training. "Every game becomes the most important game of the season. "There are no away games and no home games, they're must-win games. Everywhere we play, we need to win. We've got to continue to be dynamic in making the attack and capitalize on our chances and move forward with a great mindset and mentality."

FC Dallas and Colorado have faced each other this season in U.S. Open Cup play, with FC Dallas winning 3-1 on June 27 at Toyota Stadium to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the second straight season.

Colorado has won in its last two MLS games against FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium, including a 1-0 win on Sept, 26, 2016. FCD had won four straight games against Colorado in Frisco before the Rapids' two recent wins and is 31-22-14 all-time against Colorado.

The two clubs will meet again on Sept. 27 in Frisco and on Oct. 7 at Dick Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.

Updated August 11, 2017

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