Real Salt Lake-FC Dallas Preview
FC Dallas hasn't won its first three home games in seven years, but a visit from short-handed Real Salt Lake might give it a prime chance to pull off that feat.
Dallas will also try to remain unbeaten in 12 all-time home matches against Salt Lake when the Western Conference teams meet for the first time this season Saturday night.
FC Dallas (2-1-0) bounced back from a 3-1 loss at Chivas USA on March 10 with another one-goal win at home Sunday. Kenny Cooper scored in the 90th minute to give his team a 3-2 victory over rival Houston after it blew a two-goal lead.
Dallas will now seek its best start at home since it won four straight there to begin the 2006 season, and facing Real Salt Lake (1-1-1) might provide an ideal matchup. RSL is 0-9-2 all-time in Dallas.
Salt Lake will also have five players off on international duty. Goalkeeper Nick Rimando, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and defender Tony Beltran are with the United States team. Forward Alvaro Saborio is with Costa Rica and midfielder Abdoulie Mansally is with the Gambian squad.
Veteran defender Nat Borchers, however, could make his season debut following quad surgery.
"It's definitely good to have Nat back. He's a big asset to our team. I'm looking forward to playing with him again," defender Chris Schuler said.
Josh Saunders, who helped lead Los Angeles to back-to-back MLS titles, will likely take over for Rimando and make his debut for Salt Lake.
Saborio has scored all three of RSL's goals this season and his tally in the 80th minute last Saturday forced a 1-all tie with visiting Colorado. Salt Lake split its first two games on the road.
"It is difficult with new faces but (coach Jason Kreis) does a good job of preparing us," Schuler said.
Saborio also scored a tying goal in the 76th minute in his team's most recent matchup with FC Dallas on Aug. 18 in Utah, but David Ferreira found the net in stoppage time. The 2-1 victory snapped Dallas' five-game winless streak in the series.
The teams have tied in their past two games in Dallas, and the home club won't have goalkeeper Raul Fernandez (Peru), forward Blas Perez (Panama) and midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson (Jamaica) available due to international duty. Former RSL netminder Chris Seitz is slated to take Fernandez's spot, but he's also awaiting the birth of a child.
Perez, the team's leading goal scorer in 2012, had returned from a two-game suspension Sunday.
"For us, our goals and our mindset doesn't change," Seitz said. "We're going to go out there and try to continue to progress."
FC Dallas is unbeaten in its last six league home games and is 5-1-6 in its past 12.