The Seattle Sounders are off to the best start in their four-year history, recently overcoming a packed schedule and the loss of their starting goalkeeper.
The depth of their defense has helped in both situations.
Seattle looks to match a franchise record with its fifth consecutive victory when it visits struggling FC Dallas on Wednesday.
The Sounders (6-1-1) will be playing their fourth game in 12 days, then they'll return home for a Western Conference showdown with Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Seattle won a team-record five in a row Sept. 18-Oct. 15, 2010.
"Three games in a week is not an easy task, but we came out with nine points which is something that we are very happy about," coach Sigi Schmid told the team's official website. "I thought we had chances to get more than one goal and we were a bit unlucky. One day those floodgates will open up."
The Sounders haven't had to score much given how well their defense has played. They've outscored opponents 6-1 during their winning streak and they've posted five shutouts this season.
Schmid has used a rotation of seven defenders, allowing him to keep the defense somewhat fresh during a tough stretch of games. He's started six different four-player combinations, and the Sounders have allowed a league-low three goals.
"I really think we have seven starters," Schmid said regarding the depth of the defense. "It's a team effort when you get a shutout. It's not just the defenders, it's everyone together."
Bryan Meredith earned a shutout in his first MLS start Saturday in place of the injured Michael Gspurning, who will miss at least the next two games after aggravating a right hip injury in the first half of a 2-0 win over Los Angeles last Wednesday.
"I thought Meredith did a great job in goal and dealt with the things he needed to deal with," Schmid said. "Our defense did a good job of keeping things away from him."
He'll be in net again versus Dallas (3-4-3), which dropped to 0-2-2 in its last four with a 2-0 loss to Colorado on Sunday.
As if the recent struggles weren't enough, Dallas went down two men in the first half when Daniel Hernandez got his second yellow card in the 34th minute before Blas Perez was given a red card for what the referee deemed a reckless play in the 36th minute.
Each will serve a one-game suspension Wednesday for a Dallas team that's allowed 14 goals -- tied with Los Angeles for most in the West.
"We won't be putting our best team on the field because of the red cards and the injuries," coach Schellas Hyndman told the team's official website. "But I know I have a lot of guys in the locker room looking for an opportunity, and so they'll be given that opportunity."
Seattle is 1-0-2 all-time at Dallas, winning 1-0 in the most recent meeting Aug. 20 when Montero assisted on Rosales' goal in the 16th minute.