The last time the Earthquakes played FC Dallas, the Texans stood atop the Western Conference with a team that looked to be an MLS Cup contender.
Now San Jose is streaking as the teams meet Saturday in Frisco, Texas, in a game with Major League Soccer playoff implications.
The Quakes (9-10-6) have won four of five league matches in a last-ditch attempt to leapfrog Dallas and others to earn one of five playoff berths in the West.
On the other hand, once mighty Dallas is 1-5-6 since defeating San Jose in May to win eight of its first 13 games. The lone victory in the past three months came Wednesday night against dreadful Chivas USA.
The Earthquakes, eighth out of nine teams in the West, are three points behind Dallas in the standings.
With only nine games left "it doesn't matter who we play, where we play, we need to pick up points anyway we can," said designated player Chris Wondolowski, who leads the team with eight goals.
Wondolowski has scored three times since returning this month from playing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. His return to form has buoyed San Jose, which is 5-0-2 when the Danville native scores.
Now the pressure intensifies as San Jose embarks on a difficult weeklong trip having won just once on the road. The Quakes travel to Guatemala on Wednesday to face CD Heredia in a CONCACAF Champions League game. Then they head to Los Angeles for an MLS showdown against the Galaxy.
A bad showing in either league game could all but derail the playoff chances, a prospect that heightens the interest in the Dallas game.
Interim coach Mark Watson focused solely on Dallas in a week of practices designed to let many of the players recover from nagging soreness before playing three games in eight days.
Although FC Dallas (9-7-9) has struggled of late it still has a solid team. The depth showed Wednesday when it scored two goals in the final four minutes despite playing with 10 men. Dallas has scored seven goals in three games, perhaps signaling the worst is behind it.
"They are in a new position this season: they're looking up at a playoff" spot, Watson said. "They are going to be very motivated."
Dallas is led by Panamanian forward Blas Perez with nine goals while Colombian midfielder David Ferreira has eight assists. But the team won't have Brazilian midfielder Jackson, who was sent off Wednesday after his second yellow card.
The Quakes speedy midfielder Shea Salinas is questionable Saturday after missing last week's game because of a hamstring muscle strain. But coaches hope he can play in Guatemala.
Follow Elliott Almond at twitter.com/elliottalmond.
Earthquakes (9-10-6) at FC Dallas (9-7-9), 6 p.m., CSNCA