Nico Estevez believes FC Dallas have adopted a “playoff mentality” as they look to make it three victories in a row when they head to Seattle Sounders FC.
Dallas make the trip to Western Conference rivals Seattle sitting fifth in the division thanks to successive wins over Real Salt Lake and Los Angeles Galaxy.
Having finished 23rd overall in the league last season, Estevez feels his side are well on course to qualifying for the MLS Cup this time around.
“We’re at a point of the season where everything is becoming more equal and fair,” he said. “No one is able to win easily. But we will continue like this going forward.
“This is the type of mentalities playoff caliber teams have. Nothing will ever be pretty and perfect. We know where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Dallas have tasted defeat in just one of their past six matches, whereas next opponents Seattle have lost four of their past five and are two places outside the playoffs.
The Sounders let a one-goal lead slip in last week’s 2-1 loss against Los Angeles FC, and coach Brian Schmetzer is focused on getting back on track against Dallas in midweek.
“The last set of 12 games is going to be critical,” Schmetzer said. “We’ve got to get back to it at Lumen Field, though we know none of the remaining games are easy.
“It’s that classic coaches saying: ‘Focus on the next game’. We’ll try to get a good line-up out there against Dallas and hopefully get a good result at home before moving on.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Seattle Sounders – Jordan Morris
United States international Morris was on target in Seattle’s victory over Colorado Rapids last time out at home.
The 27-year-old could not make an impact against LAFC, though that should not come as a surprise as seven of his past eight league goals have been scored at home.
FC Dallas – Franco Jara
Jara’s ninth-minute goal against Galaxy last week proved enough for Dallas to pick up three more valuable points.
Dallas tend to do well when the former Argentina international scores, having won 10 and drawn four of the 18 matches he has found the back of the net in.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Sounders are unbeaten in 15 straight home matches against FC Dallas (W12 D3, including playoffs) with the only Dallas win in Seattle coming in May 2011. There have been only four longer home unbeaten runs against a single team in MLS history (including playoffs).
– The Sounders suffered their fourth loss in five games (W1) with a 2-1 defeat at Los Angeles FC on Friday. Seattle have 11 defeats through 22 games this season, having lost more over a full season just three times in the club’s MLS history.
– FC Dallas have won consecutive matches after recording just one win in their previous 10 MLS matches (D4 L5). Dallas have not won three straight league games since October-November 2020.
– Since the start of the 2019 season, 23 of Morris’ 30 MLS goals (including playoffs) have been scored at home, including seven of the last eight.
– Both wins in FC Dallas’ two-match run were by 1-0 scorelines. Dallas managed just two 1-0 wins in their previous 133 MLS matches (including playoffs) dating back to July 2018.