Los Angeles FC look to continue their unbeaten season when they host an FC Dallas team that has shown resiliency.
Los Angeles (2-0-1, 7 points) begins the weekend in a four-way tie for second place in the Western Conference despite holding a game in hand on two of those four teams.
And for the first time since their opening match, the Black Gold have had a full week to recover following a 0-0 draw at the Seattle Sounders that came at the end of a brutal 10-day stretch.
But there are still obstacles to overcome, including playing through an international match window that will leave manager Steve Cherundolo short-handed. Team scoring leader Denis Bouanga (Gabon), who has two MLS goals and three more in CONCACAF Champions League, is out for Saturday, are LAFC's Ecuadorian starters Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios.
Additionally, Dallas (2-1-1, 7 points) has proven itself a difficult opponent under second-year coach Nico Estevez as one of those three teams sharing second place with LAFC entering the weekend.
"Dallas is a great test. A good team, a well-coached team," Cherundolo said. "I think Nico has done an excellent job with the group. But we believe if we perform to our abilities, we can come away with three points."
Dallas has reached its position despite conceding the first goal in three of its four games -- all of those coming at home.
In their last comeback a week ago, Alan Velasco leveled the game in the 55th minute, and Jesus Ferreira scored his team-leading third goal 29 minutes later to complete a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.
Ferreira and captain Paul Arriola have also been left off the United States national team roster for their games this month, meaning they will be available in Southern California.
These teams split last year's season series, with each side winning at home. Dallas drew Vancouver 1-1 in its only previous road game this season.
"It's going to be an amazing challenge for us," Estevez said of LAFC. "We're ready for this challenge, and we can't wait to play them and see if we can meet the challenge."
--Field Level Media