For the first time in a couple of years, the playoff environment is sweeping stands at Toyota Stadium. September and October are always about the playoff hunt in Major League Soccer and as FC Dallas got back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011, you could sense how big of a moment it really was for everyone involved.
As I witnessed everything from the press box at the stadium on Sunday evening, I felt that this was possibly the first time ever in the history of the facility that the energy in the crowd actually helped lead to a victory. The players seemed to agree that it was equally important and given the 12-3-1 record at home this season, the fan support is being felt.
"It was huge," explained goalkeeper Chris Seitz. "All the fans in the last three and four years that came out make this place a hard place to play... It is huge for us. They have our backs. They are loud and are very knowledgeable of when to cheer. We love them. This is for them. Getting into the playoffs and extending games and adding a playoff game at home is huge for them. We are going to push for this and keep going."
But the battle for third place with Salt Lake could come down to how both Dallas and Salt Lake handle the Portland Timbers in the final two weeks of the season. Portland hosts Salt Lake before traveling to Dallas for the season finale. Either way, the club will be prepared for potentially a couple more home games.
"You want to play at home, third and fourth will play at home either way, so our first game will be at home," said Seitz. "It is big for us. We have the mindset that we are a very good team. Now we have a chance to go on the road to Colorado and put our foot on the game and make a statement at the end. This league is about streaks, if we can get hot at the right time and put pressure on the guys then people are going to be scared of us."
Point continue to be a vital commodity in the final weeks of the season too. Should FC Dallas win out in their final two games, it would put them at 57 points on the year, which could come up huge if they go on a hot streak and run through the rugged Western Conference.