FCD would clinch berth, tie mark with win

Not only can FC Dallas clinch a playoff spot Saturday night, it can match the longest unbeaten streak in MLS history.

FC Dallas looks to stay unbeaten for its 18th straight match as it hosts a Chicago Fire team playing for the second time in four days.

This 9-0-8 run by FC Dallas (11-2-13) is one shy of the MLS record set by Columbus in 2004. A victory Saturday would tie that mark and clinch the franchise's first playoff berth in three years.

That's been a longer drought than veteran goalkeeper Dario Sala expected after reaching the postseason three straight years from 2005-07.

"Since I came here (in 2005), the team was going to the playoffs," Sala said. "For me, it was a normal experience, but we didn't know we were going to have a dry spell of two years where we missed it. Now, I get an appreciation for what it is."

Dallas has defensive concerns heading into this match after conceding five goals in its last three. Offense has not been a problem with Jeff Cunningham and Milton Rodriguez each scoring twice in that span.

Midfielder David Ferreira has a goal and three assists in those matches to bring his season assist total to 12. He's three shy of the franchise record set by Jason Kreis in 1999.

"It's important, but it's not something that I'm thinking about. I'm just concentrating on getting good results and, if consequently, I get some assists and points in the games [that would be great]," Ferreira said through an interpreter. "That's what I'm doing right now, just playing."

Dallas will also be buoyed by the return of midfielder Brek Shea, who is available after a two-game suspension for a red card in a 2-2 draw at New York on Sept. 16. Shea, named to the U.S. national team Thursday, will see action Saturday.

"The thing that should make him happy is the team still did well without him, so nobody's looking at him and pointing the finger," coach Schellas Hyndman said. "Maybe in some ways, it's a step towards maturity."

Chicago (7-10-8) maintained its faint playoff hopes with a 3-0 victory at San Jose on Wednesday. The Fire had gone 0-5-2 in their previous seven MLS matches, including three straight 1-0 losses.

Freddie Ljungberg scored his first goal with the Fire and assisted on goals by Sam Kinney and Patrick Nyarko.

"It's about pride," Ljungberg said. "I hope that Chicago fans will appreciate that we fought really hard. We're going to keep on doing that and we'll see where it goes."

The teams drew 1-1 in Chicago on May 27 as Ferreira scored in the sixth minute before Brian McBride answered for the Fire in the 40th.