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Tuesday, October 11, 2011
FC Dallas faces Chicago, looks to end scoreless skid

By ESPN wire services

It has been a miserable last several weeks for FC Dallas. The team has suffered four consecutive shutout losses and is on the verge of the longest scoring drought in franchise history.

Despite all of those troubles, it is one win way away from clinching a playoff spot.

FC Dallas again tries to shake its recent woes and secure a postseason berth Wednesday night when it visits a Chicago Fire team that must win to avoid being eliminated from playoff contention.

Dallas (13-11-7) is in control of the first wild-card spot for the playoffs and owns a six-point advantage over Portland -- the last team out. It also owns the tiebreaker with the Timbers and can earn a second straight trip to the postseason with one victory in its final three matches.

Winning, however, has not come easy for Dallas lately.

The team has been outscored 5-0 in losing four straight MLS games since beating Sporting KC, 3-2, on Aug. 27. Its scoreless streak now stands at 360 minutes, and if Dallas fails to manage a goal in the first four minutes against the Fire, it will break the franchise record set in 2003.

Maybe some time off could help. Dallas hasn't played since a 1-0 loss to Colorado on Oct. 1.

"I think the team is just anxious and I think they're frustrated," coach Schellas Hyndman told the club's official website.

Besides the scoreless streak, Hyndman's club could set another franchise record with a fifth consecutive defeat. This is the seventh time in the franchise's 16-year history Dallas has lost four straight MLS games and the most recent since May 8-29, 2004.

"We need to finish the season off on a good note and compete for that playoff spot and then feel good about being in the playoffs," Hyndman said. "We've done very well to put ourselves in the position we are, but we don't want to give teams the chance to catch us or bypass us, so we have to be focused on winning and getting points."

Dallas has done a good job of picking up points against Chicago.

The teams played to a 1-all draw in the season opener March 19, and Dallas is 11-2-3 in its last 16 games in the series. Dallas is 4-0-1 all-time at Toyota Park.

Chicago (7-8-16), however, has won four straight home games and is 5-1-1 overall since Aug. 21.

This late push has given the Fire a slim shot at the playoffs, but one more loss would dash those hopes. They're seven points behind Houston for the final playoff spot with three games remaining.

They blew a chance to make up some ground with a 1-all draw in Houston on Oct. 1. Dominic Oduro tied the score in the 43rd minute for his fifth goal in seven games, and he leads the Fire with 12.

With their playoff chances looking bleak, Chicago had its sights set on capturing a U.S. Open Cup championship last Tuesday against Seattle but came up short. The Fire allowed two goals in the final 13 minutes in a 2-0 loss.

"We're disappointed," interim coach Frank Klopas told the league's official website. "We put a lot of effort into it."