FC Dallas (5-6-2) at Real Salt Lake (6-0-5), 9:30 p.m.
Sandy, UT (SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams heading in opposite directions will square off at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday as FC Dallas hits the road to face Real Salt Lake.
Salt Lake, the league's last remaining unbeaten side, has enjoyed an impressive start to life under first-year head coach Jeff Cassar, going 6-0-5 in its first 11 games of the season.
Dallas, meanwhile, made a bright start to the campaign by winning five of its first seven games, but the club has stalled since, going 0-5-1 in the following six matches.
The club traveled to the StubHub Center for a meeting with the struggling Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, but Dallas came up short in a 2-1 loss.
"Like any other defeat, walking off without points is frustrating, but we are moving forward," FCD boss Oscar Pareja said after the match. "The reaction that this team had, and the quality of the players giving all they had, always having the initiative. The way we played can definitely help with feeling encouraged, it doesn't give us points, but it is encouraging."
The one bright spot for Dallas was the play of rookie Tesho Akindele, who bagged his first MLS goal in the loss to the Galaxy.
"Since we were away, it was so quiet after I scored, I thought for sure I was offside," Akindele said. "I checked like five times with the assistant ref just to make sure he didn't raise his flag. It is just pure happiness as a striker when you score a goal, that is what I am paid for, that is why I am here, so to score a goal makes me really happy."
Salt Lake enters the clash on a three-game winning run, most recently getting a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup last weekend.
That the Claret and Cobalt managed to get the win without Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio - Beckerman and Rimando are with the United States national team while Saborio is with Costa Rica - is a testament to Cassar's grip on the team and the vast depth on the roster.
"I thought it was a great start to the game," Cassar said. "I thought Cole Grossman had a really mature performance there and sat in and held down the fort, and didn't get caught out of position too much. With Devon (Sandoval) his work rate was off the chart. His ability to hold up the ball and bring more of our midfield into the attack was fantastic and just to keep grinding and battling for 90 minutes really helped us out."