FC Dallas (pictured) celebrates after scoring against the host LA Galaxy in a U.S. Open semifinal on August 10, 2016, in Carson, California. (Photo courtesy of FC Dallas)
CARSON, California -- As FC Dallas prepares to go deeper into its 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League campaign, the Major League Soccer side finds itself already on the verge of qualifying for next year's edition.
FCD took a major step in that direction with a dramatic 2-1 win in extratime over the host LA Galaxy in the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open semifinals on Wednesday night at the StubHub Center.
The team will host the New England Revolution, a 3-1 winner over the Chicago Fire in the other semifinal, at Toyota Stadium on September 21. The champion will book a spot in the 2017/18 SCCL.
"It’s humongous," said center back Matt Hedges, who connected for the equalizing goal. "We’re going to be in our home stadium hosting a final to try to win a trophy. That’s all you can ever ask for."
Then known as the Dallas Burn, the club captured the 1997 U.S. Open Cup crown over D.C. United on penalty kicks.
"It’s huge, we need it," Hedges continued. "The last two years we’ve been one of the best teams in the league, but we’ve got nothing to show for it. We need to win something. This is our first opportunity."
Mike Magee's penalty-kick conversion in the 101st minute gave LA a 1-0 lead.
Hedges headed home the first of two productive Mauro Diaz corner kicks to tie it in the 116th minute, before substitute Victor Ulloa's header a minute into stoppage time.
"We’ve fought so hard this season and we have got past many obstacles," commented Ulloa. "Our mentality is that we want to take it back home and play for a championship in front of our fans. We just showed it. We didn’t put our heads down. We kept going.
“After we got that first goal, we were back to normal and the last ball of the game. It’s all or nothing. We know we are good at home. We have to take full advantage of it."
Before that, Dallas must take care of some current SCCL on August 24 at Real Esteli. FCD won their first meeting, 2-1, on August 4.