FC Dallas goaltender Dario Sala had a short return to the pitch after missing four games with a knee injury.
With Sala suspended, Dallas will again turn to backup goalie Ray Burse as it tries to move itself out of last place in the Western Conference when it visits D.C. United on Saturday.
FCD (1-4-1) lost Sala in early April after the goaltender underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Sala played using a knee brace in the season opener -- a 3-1 loss to Chicago -- before the team decided he should have the surgery rather than continue to play with the injury he suffered in the preseason.
Sala returned from his four-game absence last Saturday against Chivas USA, but was sent off after receiving a red card for a handball outside the box. The red card comes with an automatic one-game suspension, which he'll serve this weekend.
"He was only a yard off the line, but I think he knows better and we'll continue to talk about it," coach Schellas Hyndman told Dallas' official Web site.
Burse replaced Sala and allowed both Chivas goals in the second half of the 2-0 defeat. Dallas had 13 shots -- the same number as Chivas -- but was unable to connect while struggling to play down a player.
Dallas is tied for the fewest points in the league and has given up an MLS-high 12 goals. It's been shutout twice in league matchups this season and, also lost 2-0 to United (2-1-3) in U.S. Open Cup play at RFK Stadium on April 22.
Despite that, Hyndman emerged optimistic after his side's latest defeat.
"I thought Saturday was one of our best games since I've been coaching at FC Dallas," he said. "We created a heck of a lot of opportunities and deserved a goal if not two. ... All I keep saying to the guys is continue to get better. That's all I can ask for as a coach, is for them to continue to get better and stay confident."
D.C. is coming off a 3-2 win at New York last Sunday. Including last week's Open Cup win over Dallas, United are 2-0-1 the last three times they've taken the field.
Against the Red Bulls, D.C. trailed late after Dane Richards scored for New York in the 74th minute. United rallied, however, with Luciano Emilio and Chris Pontius scoring in a span of 36 seconds during the final minute.
"This is the kind of game that makes you stronger later on, especially with a young team," coach Tom Soehn said. "This could be the turning point in our season. They dug deep and found a way to win it."
Emilio's goal was his team-leading fourth of the season. Pontius, meanwhile, started aside Emilio because Jaime Moreno was unavailable due to an Achilles' tendon strain.
Moreno is questionable for Saturday's matchup.
United is 6-4-4 all-time at home against Dallas. FCD snapped a six-game league losing winless drought against D.C. in the last meeting between the teams, a 3-0 victory in Dallas on Sept. 28.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press