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Nkosi Tafari on Houston: "We need to win this game"
The Dallas defensive leader knows there is a lot on the line tomorrow night.
FC Dallas players and coaches know that Saturday’s game in Houston has a lot riding on it, from the MLS Cup Playoff race to the Texas Derby to Copa Tejas.
Simply put, this may be the biggest game of the regular season to date for FC Dallas.
FC Dallas currently sits in ninth place in the Western Conference but are just three points back of their weekend opponents, the Houston Dynamo, who currently sit in fourth place. A win on Saturday would help see FC Dallas jump higher up the standings, potentially to a spot that could see them host games in the MLS Cup Playoffs if they are able to stay there after the final four games.
“The West couldn't really be any tighter in terms of points,” said FC Dallas defender Nkosi Tafari. “We could jump maybe five or six spots just off of one win, and that's massive for us. We have a game in hand on a lot of teams in the league. So getting that back and taking advantage of that is massive for us. This is the biggest game of the year.”
FC Dallas and Houston split points in their first meeting of the year, a 1-1 draw that saw Jader Obrian score early in the second half before Thor Úlfarsson tied the game up in the late stages of the match.
Both teams were involved in matches on Wednesday night, but the Dynamo’s result in Miami saw them lift the US Open Cup trophy for the second time in club history. Tafari and his teammates are hoping that despite that emotional high for the Dynamo, they can catch them off guard tomorrow night.
“Perhaps maybe it plays into how they think about the match, but we can think about how they're thinking about the match,” said Tafari. “We need to just go about it ourselves. We've also played Wednesday and Saturday and then the previous Wednesday, so we're just managing our bodies and going into the game knowing that we need to win and bring everything that we can, and this is a direct rival. They are an opponent that is higher than us, and if we win, we’re equal on points in them.”
A win on Saturday would not only lift FC Dallas up the standings with three games to go in the regular season, but it would also clinch both the Texas Derby and Copa Tejas for 2023. While those items are big for the fans, Tafari and his teammates are more concerned with just winning the game.
“Very simple, we just need to win regardless of what's on the line in terms of maybe a midseason trophy, a Texas Derby amongst us in Austin, or it's just a direct rival, and we need to win this game,” said Tafari. “It's a derby; we need to win this game.”