On a sweltering evening at Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas dispatched a plucky Alianza FC side 1-0 on a first half goal from Ugo Ihemelu. Coupled with the 1-0 win in San Salvador last week, FC Dallas has advanced to their first ever CONCACAF Champions League group stage where they will face UNAM Pumas of Mexico, Tauro FC of Panama and Toronto FC of MLS.
It will be a quick turnaround for Dallas who begin the group stages just two weeks from now, traveling to Mexico City where they will face Mexican champions Pumas at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario on Wednesday, August 17 at 9PM. Dallas returns to MLS play on Saturday evening in a crucial top-of-the-table clash with Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.
Read on for thoughts and quote sheet
Just a couple of things tonight, I'll have much more tomorrow.
When you play in temperatures pushing 110 degrees, it doesn't make for a very pretty game. However, FC Dallas is an absolutely professional, get the job done kind of team and while tonight's game wasn't pretty, you saw Dallas know exactly what they needed to do to advance on while conserving energy for Saturday night's huge game in LA.
Credit to the whole staff for historically advancing on!
They are very orderly on defense. They seem to play from memory as they play together.
That's what Alianza forward Rafael Burgos had to say about the Dallas defense after the game tonight and I think it's pretty spot on. Orlando City was the last team to score on FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park, five home games and well over a month ago.
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman
Thoughts on the game…
We are very proud of our team and this accomplishment. Alianza is a very worthy opponent and it was great to come away with a historic victory. This is a great moment for this organization.
On if he though fatigue played a part in tonight’s match…
What you saw tonight was fatigue. Our players were making mistakes they don’t normally make. If you look at the month of July it was the hardest month in the history of FC Dallas. The players keep finding a way to win and that comes from determination and character.
On moving forward to Group C along with Pumas of Mexico, Tauro of Panama and Toronto FC of Canada…
Fantastic – I think it is fantastic. Getting the chance to go down and play Pumas in Mexico City – It’s fantastic. We want to play against some of the best teams in CONCACAF. What is does is provide us with a measuring stick to see where we are. At the same time we get the opportunity to represent Dallas as well as MLS.
FC Dallas defender Ugo Ihemelu
On his goal…
It’s basically a set piece that we run. Ricardo is great on set pieces. Usually he looks for George or me. He served a good ball in, and I just went up and made perfect contact and found the left corner of the goal. Alianza is not a big team. I knew if I was first to the ball I would have a good chance of scoring. George and I have been talking a lot about getting chances on set pieces and tonight was one that went well for us.
General thoughts on the game…
Early on this season we worked on communication and keeping our shape. That’s something we know is very important in league play and we have been able to carry that through to this competition. Alianza came in here with nothing to lose. They knew they had to score some goals at the end and they started to throw numbers forward. When that happens, you have to keep your shape and communicate because you are basically out numbered. Guys have to cover their spots and you kind of go into a zone. Tonight we were able to pick up another shutout. We have had a lot of shutouts this season. Hopefully our defense can continue to carry us further.
Alianza FC Head Coach Roberto Gamarra
How do you grade your team’s performance today…
We didn’t take advantage of the chances we had last week. It is difficult when you don’t take advantage of your chances; when you don’t pressure the team you’re facing. It’s a problem when you don’t finish chances and that’s ultimately the problem that we have, having lost the last three games 1-0
What do you think of FC Dallas…
They are very good. They have a great infrastructure here. They have good players, big players, physically, technically strong. They have everything to form a good roster that any coach would want to be in charge of this team. They are very balanced all over the field. They are difficult to beat because they are a solid team. In the case today, we lacked the chance to score a goal. There is not a huge difference between the two teams. We are trying to rebound from losing our top player.
Alianza FC forward Rafael Burgos
What did you think of the heat out there tonight, and was it a factor?
It was definitely a significant factor. We aren’t used to this heat. There were a lot of factors coming here today. We knew it was going to be very tough, the weather, the fans, and the stadium. We did our best, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
On the physicality of the game…
They are very orderly on defense. They seem to play from memory as they play together. There were definitely a lot of physical plays, a lot of fouls, but unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of the free kicks that we were awarded.