A strong CONCACAF Champions League run for FC Dallas last year brought energy and emotion to the club, and now the team has another rare opportunity to fight for the ultimate goal of the competition. Changes to the competition have made the pathway just a little bit easier than in the past, but the hardest rounds will be just as tough.
This year, going down 1-0 away from home at Tauro FC with no away goals makes the home game coming up tougher. Last year against Arabe Unido, another Panamanian team from the same league as Tauro, FC Dallas won 4-0 at home. FC Dallas will need another performance like that to move on this year.
The most recent edition of the CCL began close to a year and a half ago for FC Dallas. Back then, as in previous CCL tournaments, there was a spread out group stage that took place before the MLS offseason.
2016-17 FC Dallas CCL Highlights:
CCL Group Stage: 2016
It all started when FC Dallas qualified for the 2016-17 Champions League by getting 60 points in MLS play to top the Western Conference in the 2015 Regular Season.
The group stage was during a packed point in the season for FC Dallas, who were juggling Regular Season and US Open Cup games at the same time. FC Dallas did not blow off the CCL competition like some MLS sides have done in previous group stage matches. In each group, the teams played each other twice, with one game at home and one away. FC Dallas were able to get 2 wins and 2 draws to narrowly beat out the two other teams in the group: Real Esteli from Nicaragua, and Suchitepequez from Guatemala.
FCD vs Real Esteli (Aug 4, 2016)
FC Dallas put out a strong lineup in the first CCL game against Real Esteli, and came out of it with a 2-1 win off goals from Michael Barrios and Maynor Figueroa.
Real Esteli vs FCD (Aug 24, 2016)
Then FC Dallas went to Nicaragua to face Real Esteli a second time. There was an early scare for FCD in the 5th minute when Esteli scored, but Atiba Harris responded with a headed goal 2 minutes later from a Mauro Rosales free kick delivery. FC Dallas held on for the 1-1 draw.
FCD vs Suchitepequez (Sept 28, 2016)
A win at home against Suchitepequez would have clinched the top spot for FC Dallas and they would have been able to use reserves in Guatemala. The team could not get the ball in the net, however, and the game was a scoreless draw, which meant that FC Dallas needed at least a tie in the last group stage game to go on through.
Suchitepequez vs FCD (Oct 20, 2016)
Early in the last group stage game, Suchitepequez scored twice, but FC Dallas stormed back and scored 5 goals to book a ticket to the Knockout Rounds.
Knockout Rounds: 2017
The next stage of the competition came 4 months later, while FC Dallas was in preseason. With big CCL ambitions, FC Dallas took a rigorous 10-day summer preseason trip to Argentina to prepare. They played games almost everyday there to make up FC Dallas’ disadvantage by being in preseason.
The break between the 2 stages of the tournament is no longer an issue for MLS sides. Now MLS teams do not have to go through a group stage, but start in the knockout rounds in the Round of 16. So that means there is one extra knockout round game than there was before.
FC Dallas vs Arabe Unido (Feb 23, 2017)
To start off FC Dallas’ competitive matches in 2017, the team pulled off a dominant 4-0 result. A goal from Cristian Colman gave false hope, and a brace from Kellyn Acosta started off his hot run of form at the beginning of the year.
Arabe Unido vs FC Dallas (Mar 1, 2017)
Going down to Panama, FC Dallas got an early away goal, but two late goals from Arabe Unido stole the result away from FCD. Arabe Unido won 2-1, but FC Dallas went to the next round on aggregate.
FC Dallas vs Pachuca (Mar 15, 2017)
At home against Pachuca, FC Dallas had a packed stadium and made their fans happy with a 2-1 win against the eventual CCL tournament winners.
Pachuca vs FC Dallas (Apr 4, 2017)
FC Dallas went down 2-0 to Pachuca, but a headed goal from Colman made it 2-1, and it looked like the game would go into extra time. In stoppage time, however, a cross from Pachuca player Hirving Lozano went untouched by any players in the box and surprised Chris Seitz. It found its way into the back of the net, and the CCL competition was over for FC Dallas.
How FC Dallas Qualified this Year:
In a Herculean manner, FC Dallas managed to get 60 points for a second time in a row in the MLS Regular Season while balancing a schedule more congested than any other MLS team because of its appearances in the Champions League and late rounds of the US Open Cup. Winning the US Open Cup qualified FC Dallas for the 2018 Champions League before completing its run in 2016-17. Even if FC Dallas had lost the US Open Cup tournament that has historically been a crap shoot, getting 60 points in the Regular Season gave FC Dallas the Supporters’ Shield and would have qualified the team anyway.
FC Dallas had a strong, exciting run in the 2016-17 CCL competition. Now FC Dallas needs to put in a good performance at home against Tauro FC to keep the hope alive of becoming the first MLS team to win the Champions League.