Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams heading in opposite directions will meet at Toyota Stadium on Saturday as FC Dallas plays host to the Portland Timbers.
Portland finished the 2013 regular season atop the Western Conference with 57 points, 13 points better than second-from-bottom FC Dallas.
Fast forward five months and the fortunes of the two clubs have been reversed.
With new coach Oscar Pareja at the helm, Dallas is unbeaten through its first three contests of the season, claiming seven points to climb atop the overall MLS table.
Dallas earned a 3-1 win over Chivas USA in its last outing, and it was playmaker Mauro Diaz who received the majority of the plaudits. The Argentine had a hand in the club's first two goals of the match, providing brilliant service for Fabian Castillo on free kick before setting Je-Vaughn Watson up with a superb through ball shortly after.
"You can't give space to Mauro because it's a very dangerous place to give him that kind of space ... that pass was a great pass," Castillo said after the match. "The fullback tried to get the ball. You've got to give credit to Je- Vaughn to because he was there and he did it."
Pareja went as far as to designate Diaz as the leader of this season's Dallas team.
"Mauro is the first one that I look at and he knows that and he's carrying the pressure very well," said the FCD boss. "Fantastic ball to Watson and a couple more to Castillo. The penetration that Mauro is giving us is outstanding."
Portland, meanwhile, has stumbled out of the starting blocks this season, managing just two points from its first three games.
The Timbers had to come from behind, thanks to some late heroics from Gaston Fernandez, to salvage a pair of draws at home, and Caleb Porter's side tasted defeat from its first road match of the campaign as it was undone in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids last time out.
The match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park was scoreless until the final stages as a 73rd-minute penalty from Vicente Sanchez handed the Rapids the lead.
Things went tom bad to worse just a minute later as Portland conceded another penalty. Deshorn Brown was denied on the ensuing attempt, but he followed up and slammed home the rebound to ensure the win.
"This result is a tough one to swallow," Porter said. "We were in a good position. I thought the game was tight, like you'd want the game to be especially when you're on the road. Possession was even, defending well, they were getting very good chances. ... We felt like the goal would come."