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Eastern Conference Championship

Slumping Dallas look to clinch playoff spot vs. Fire (again)

FRISCO, Texas — Clinching a playoff spot against the Chicago Fire is nothing new for FC Dallas.

Last year, the club secured a postseason berth with a 3-0 defeat of the Chicago Fire, breaking a three-year postseason drought. On Wednesday night at Toyota Park (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), Dallas could repeat the feat: a win and they are into the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.

It won’t be easy, though. The Fire are a feisty and resurgent side fighting for their own playoff lives.

“I think it’ll be a very good game, a very good matchup,” FCD coach Schellas Hyndman said. “Both teams are working hard trying to secure wins and we’re looking forward to a good game.”

The Fire could be without two of their most influential players, midfielder Marco Pappa and forward Dominic Oduro, who has 12 goals on the season. Pappa is most likely out after suiting up for Guatemala against Belize on Tuesday night, and Oduro will be a game-time decision following a fever that reached 105 degrees over the weekend.

Those absences should give Dallas, who have lost four matches in a row, some added optimism. But striker Maicon Santos isn’t ready to put a W on the board just yet.

“It’s not that easy,” he said with a slight smile. “It’s going to be a hard game and they are a good team. We expect a lot from them because it’s an important game ... but we have to bring the result for us.”

Maicon Santos could have an important role against Chicago. Just scoring a goal would be a boost for the side. Along with a four-game losing streak, FC Dallas are also mired in a scoreless streak of 360 minutes — four minutes shy of the franchise record. 

“We’re really just taking it one game at a time,” he said before the team departed to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. “I think we recognize the quality that Chicago has and we’re very cognizant of the fact that we’re going to have to be very good to get a result.”

Brek’s back

FCD leading scorer Brek Shea is unlikely to participate vs. Chicago after going 45 minutes in the US national team's 1-0 loss to Ecuador on Tuesday night. However, the winger is expected to join the club in Chicago and be on the bench.

“We hope that we don’t have to use him,” Hyndman told ExtraTime Radio on Monday. “But I’d rather we have him on the bench [in Chicago] than back in Dallas.”

Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.