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FC Dallas keeps focus on struggling Earthquakes

It will be a matchup of the best and worst teams in MLS' Western Conference when FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes square off on Saturday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

But don't think for a minute that there is anything to be taken for granted.

FC Dallas (12-3-6, 42 points in 21 games) is coming off one of its biggest wins of the 2018 season, a 3-2 victory at Sporting Kansas City that was its first at Children's Mercy Park since 2011.

The victory saw Michael Barrios score his first goal of the MLS campaign, then his second and then a third to garner the initial hat trick of his career. The win also allowed FC Dallas to extend its lead in the Western Conference standings to six points after the completion of Week 22.

Even with his team full of momentum, FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja reiterated that San Jose can't be taken lightly.

"I have learned that no game against any team is an easy one," Pareja said. "I have great respect for San Jose's players and coaches. We have had times, as well, when things didn't go our way. We are approaching this game like always -- in an attempt to capture three points and play our best."

In a case of the best getting even better, FC Dallas acquired forward Dominique Badji from Colorado last week in exchange for midfielder Kellyn Acosta.

Badji, 25, has seven goals and two assists in 15 starts for the Rapids this season

"It's definitely something that I'm looking forward to," said Badji, who is from Senegal and will be available for FC Dallas on Saturday after obtaining his green card. "It gives me a lot of energy, and I'm just going to look forward to being out there and starting that new chapter."

San Jose (2-12-7, a league-low 13 points in 21 matches) heads to Texas on the heels of a scoreless home draw with Real Salt Lake on July 29. The Earthquakes' winless streak reached 12 matches even as they ended a three-game losing streak.

"I see some improvements, that's for sure," Earthquakes coach Mikael Stahre said. "We are much more compact, and we are more aggressive and conceded less chances."

The Earthquakes are in last place in the Western Conference, 29 points behind FC Dallas. San Jose's goal differential of minus-11 is tied for the worst in the West. Its only two wins of the campaign have come against Minnesota United FC.

The scoreless draw marked San Jose's first shutout of the season.

"We are happy to finally get the monkey off our back and get a clean sheet," Earthquakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell said. "The whole team worked hard defensively, but we're disappointed we couldn't score and win."

San Jose owns a 26-20 all-time advantage over FC Dallas with 15 ties, but FC Dallas has won 12 of the 30 matches played between the two sides in Texas (with seven draws). The Earthquakes will play FC Dallas again on Aug. 29 in San Jose.

Updated August 2, 2018

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