FC Dallas took on Mexican powerhouse Pachuca, had a bit of a nervy start conceding a goal early, but eventually leveled the play and came out on top with a 2-1 win. The series is only halfway through, with having to travel to Mexico to play the away leg, but there is plenty to talk about from the first 90.
The level of competition was much...MUCH higher
Making it to the knockout stages of any competition is important, because it weeded out the lesser teams, but it is a little more special when it is the Champions League. One can arguably say that FC Dallas had the most favorable opponent for the quarter-finals, downing Arabe Unido 5-2 on aggregate.
When Pachuca defeated Saprissa 4-0 in their series, I was excited. Pachuca is a top team in a top league in the Western Hemisphere and will provide genuine competition for Oscar Pareja and co. Coming out the gates Pachuca was all over Dallas, which led to a goal from Franco Jara in the 3rd minute.
Pachuca’s front line showed resilience, with impressive play by Erick Aguirre and Jara, there were plenty of chances that the Mexican side in reality should’ve capitalized on. However, with a combination of skying some shots, and very impressive goalkeeping by Chris Seitz, they were limited to only one goal. One other thing to note about Pachuca, they have the best back line in Liga MX with only allowing five goals in the Clausura and prior to Wednesday’s match having an eight game unbeaten streak. That streak was halted thanks to a wondergoal from this man....
Kellyn. Freaking. Acosta.
Following the first leg against Arabe Unido, I made a statement that this is the year of the Kellyn and so far it is paying off for the Plano native. Hours before the game, Acosta, and teammate Walker Zimmerman received call-ups to the US Mens National Team.
I kept on telling myself I would not write on Kellyn, as he has been a regular talking point in my series, but that went out the door when he lined up 30 yards from goal, and did this.
Following up with Acosta after the match, when asked about the conversation with Maynor Figueroa, who was also lined up, he said “I grabbed the ball first and he asked to take it, and I said no, I feel it, this is my shot.” With the goal, Kellyn Acosta is now ahead of Atiba Harris and Ruben Luna as FC Dallas’ leading goalscorer in CONCACAF Champions League.
The job is only half done
FC Dallas did what they needed to do, with the exception of allowing an away goal. This is still an uphill battle for FC Dallas, figuratively and literally. Pachuca plays in Estadio Hidalgo which is 7,000 feet above sea level. With a mixture between that, hoping that Acosta, Maynor Figueroa, and Walker Zimmerman all return healthy from international duty, and the reputation of Liga MX stadiums being difficult to play in thanks to the passionate fanbases there, it’ll be a big call to hold on to the lead that they have.
With that being said, FC Dallas has joined a rare company of MLS teams that have beaten Liga MX sides in the knockout round of the CCL.
With FC Dallas’ home opener, then international break, and MLS moving the Colorado match to help Dallas be rested for the second leg, Pareja’s men should have plenty of rest heading into the second leg.
Zimmerman did confirm after the game that they intend on arriving in Mexico a couple of days earlier to help acclimate to the climate and the altitude.
FC Dallas has their home opener vs New England Revolution Saturday 3/18 at 7:00, if you can’t make it, the match will be able to be viewed on KTXA Channel 21.