Out to carry their home form to the road to bolster their playoff chances, FC Dallas seek a season-high third straight win Saturday when they face the Chicago Fire.
The Hoops (12-7-10) currently hold the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, entering this weekend one point ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy while also just three points behind Real Salt Lake and Seattle for second with five matches remaining.
Striker Zdenek Ondrasek has picked an opportune time to find a surge in form, scoring all four of his goals on the season in FC Dallas’ last three contests. The Czech Republic native has factored on six of the team’s 11 goals during a three-match unbeaten run (2-1-0) and had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory over FC Cincinnati on Aug. 31 prior to the international break.
“I believe it’s the hard work in the training,” Ondrasek told ProSoccer USA. “I believe it’s the extra work in the training that we had more finishing, we had more focus for the last part of the play. I believe we go to the box more in numbers and we’ve scored more goals.”
That has not always been the case on the road, where the Hoops have come up empty in goals in four of their last six road matches and have only 11 points from 14 contests (3-9-2) outside Frisco. They are also 1-1-3 on the road versus Eastern Conference teams, but the lone win came over MLS Cup champions Atlanta United.
FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal made his U.S. senior team debut against Uruguay on Tuesday, getting a late runout in the 1-1 draw versus the South American side. Defender Reggie Cannon started both matches for the U.S. during the break, playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 loss to Mexico.
Chicago (8-10-12) still harbor faint playoff hopes but enters this match in 10th place in the East, five points behind New England for the final postseason spot with four matches remaining. The Fire are unbeaten in their last four at home (2-2-0) and went into the international break following a 1-1 draw at Columbus on Aug. 31, nicking the point in the 94th minute on a goal by Przemyslaw Frankowski.
Three of Chicago’s first-team regulars represented their countries during the break, with defender Francisco Calvo playing for Costa Rica against Uruguay and midfielder Aleksander Katai getting his ninth cap for Serbia in a Euro qualifier versus Luxembourg. Fellow midfielder Djordje Mihailovic captained the U.S. Under-23 side to a 2-0 victory over Japan.
During the break, the Fire also made progress on making Soldier Field their home for next season as they are near an agreement on a 10-year deal with the Chicago Park District to play at the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. The Fire, who have played in suburban Bridgeview since 2006, reached an agreement to break their lease with the village in July.
On Friday, Joe Mansueto bought full ownership of the club, purchasing the shares held by Andrew Hauptman. Mansueto bought 49 percent of the club in July 2018, while Hauptman had bought the club from the Anschutz Entertainment Group in 2007.
FC Dallas are looking to retain possession of the Brimstone Cup, the trophy awarded to the winner of the season series. The Hoops were 3-1 winners at home last season, getting goals from Carlos Gruezo and Kellyn Acosta on either side of halftime before Reto Ziegler added a third from the spot.
(Francisco Calvo photo courtesy Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports)