Dallas host Philadelphia Union in the MLS on Wednesday.
Both teams are faring well in the regular season, with Philadelphia topping the Eastern Conference and Dallas sitting third in the Western Conference.
However, Dallas’ cushion inside the playoff positions is still only six points, so they cannot afford to rest on their laurels having failed to qualify for the next stage last season.
Having won the MLS Cup twice in their history, most recently in 2016 when beating New England Revolution 4-2 in the final, there is always significant pressure on Burn to reach the playoffs as a minimum expectation.
So far, Nico Estevez has his side on course to achieve that aim in his debut season in charge of the club, having left his role as United States’ assistant to take his first head coaching role in Dallas.
After beating San Jose Earthquakes 4-1 last time out at the Toyota Stadium, the Spaniard will feel confident that his side can be more than competitive against the most in-form side from the East of the country on Wednesday.
Indeed, Philadelphia are on a serious roll at the moment, having won six of their last seven matches ahead of their trip to Dallas this week.
Perhaps their form should come as no surprise to anyone given that they have finished inside the top three positions of the Eastern Conference in each of the last three seasons, including topping the overall MLS leaderboard in 2020.
However, they are still searching for a maiden MLS Cup despite qualifying for the playoffs in four of their last five campaigns. Last season was the closest that they have come since joining the MLS in 2010, but they fell short at the penultimate hurdle in a 2-1 defeat to eventual winners New York City FC.
This time around, though, Jim Curtin‘s side look like they mean business. The 43-year-old has managed the team since 2014, so he has been right at the heart of their gradual progression, and he will hope to reap the dividends from a triumphant season sooner rather than later.
Dallas do not appear to have any injury concerns preventing Estevez from picking his strongest XI.
Barring any fatigue, the 42-year-old will likely pick the same team which thrashed San Jose 4-1 at the weekend, with Jesus Ferreira hoping to pick up from where he left off after bagging a brace.
Philadelphia, meanwhile, should make their long trip westwards with a fully-fit squad, too.
Given their strong position in the table, Curtin could bring Jose Andres Martinez into the midfield to freshen things up, with Leon Flach potentially rested to make way.
Dallas possible starting lineup:
Paes; Twumasi, Hedges, Jose Antonio Martinez, Farfan; Lletget, Cerrillo, Ntsabeleng; Arriola, Ferreira, Velasco
Philadelphia Union possible starting lineup:
Blake; Mbaizo, Glesnes, Elliott, Wagner; Jose Andres Martinez, Bedoya, McGlynn, Gazdag; Uhre, Carranza.