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FC Dallas brace for test against West-leading St. Louis City

Aug 26, 2023; Frisco, Texas, USA; FC Dallas defender Nkosi Tafari (17) celebrates with the cowboy hat for being named man of the match in the victory over Austin FC at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas will attempt to build on an emotional win over an in-state rival when they visit Western Conference-leading St. Louis City on Wednesday.

FC Dallas (9-9-6, 33 points) moved into eighth place in the West by defeating Austin FC 1-0 on Saturday on defender Nkosi Tafari’s winning header in the seventh minute of second-half stoppage time.

Tafari entered this season with one career goal in 49 matches (32 starts) for Dallas. He has started 19 of his 21 appearances in 2023 and has tallied three goals while completing 83.1 percent of his passes.

In his postgame press conference, FC Dallas coach Nico Estevez said Tafari’s growth as a player is a point of pride.

“‘You have to believe in yourself and you have to want to be one of the best center backs in the league,'” Estevez said he told Tafari. “… And I think he understood the message and he has been great so far.”

FC Dallas are 7-3-2 at home this season but are 2-6-4 on the road. They will be up against a St. Louis side that is 9-3-1 at home.

“They’re a big threat,” St. Louis coach Bradley Carnell said of Dallas. “They get a good win now in injury time against Austin. Yeah, to be reckoned with, for sure. And this is important for us, how we put teams under pressure at home, how we dominate at home.”

St. Louis (14-9-2, 44 points) has played twice since MLS play resumed after the Leagues Cup. The expansion club throttled Austin FC 6-3 at home on Aug. 20 but dropped a 2-1 decision at Orlando City on Saturday.

Rasmus Alm tied the match for St. Louis City in the 78th minute, but Facundo Torres converted a penalty kick in the first minute of second-half stoppage time for Orlando.

St. Louis City forward Joao Klauss (five goals, four assists) returned Saturday from a four-month absence due to a quad injury. St. Louis’ leading scorer Nicholas Gioacchini (10 goals) picked up a shoulder injury against Orlando, but it turned out to be minor and Carnell didn’t rule him out for Wednesday.

The first meeting between these teams was suspended in the 50th minute due to inclement weather in Frisco, Texas. The match resumed on June 7, and Jesus Ferreira and Marco Farfan scored in the final 10 minutes for a 2-0 Dallas victory.

–Field Level Media