FC Dallas in must win against Sounders

FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja was blunt when asked about his team’s match Sunday against the host Seattle Sounders.

“This one, against Seattle, this is the season,” Pareja said. “I think we’re clear on that.”

FC Dallas (10-9-13), which was atop the Western Conference early this season, has won just once in its past 13 games and is clinging to the conference’s sixth and final playoff berth. With two games remaining, FC Dallas entered the weekend one point ahead of Real Salt Lake and San Jose.

“We’ve worked all year to be in the playoffs,” veteran midfielder Javier Morales told the Dallas Morning News. “We know who we’re playing, we have to be aware, but … it’s still in our hands to qualify.”

It won’t be an easy matchup against the defending MLS Cup champion Sounders (12-9-11), who have lost just once at home this season.

Seattle entered the weekend tied for third in the West with 47 points and can claim a playoff berth with a victory. The Sounders will be without forward Jordan Morris (right hamstring strain) and defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quad injury), who have been ruled out.

The Sounders, who this summer put together a franchise-record 13-game unbeaten streak, have slumped a bit of late. They are 1-2-4 in their past seven matches.

“We’re missing two really, really big guys on our team (right now),” said Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan, who has played the past couple of matches with a cast on a broken left arm. “Ozzie is the heart of our team and Jordan, with his speed and commitment … those two guys make our team so much better.”

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said he’s looking for most consistency from his squad. Seattle will get seven players back from international duty Sunday. That includes forward Clint Dempsey, who is expected to appear in his 100th regular-season match for the Sounders.

“I think the only consistency we’ve had this year is we’ve been a hard team to beat,” Schmetzer said. “Maybe there’s a couple of games in there where we had international (absences) where we didn’t have good results, but over the course of the season through now, I think we’ve been hard to beat.”

FC Dallas and Seattle played to a scoreless draw on Sept. 16 in Frisco, Texas, in their first meeting of the season. Seattle holds a 10-5-6 edge in the all-time series.