FC Dallas eliminated from MLS playoffs, but Pareja proud

Head coach Oscar Pareja (white shirt) led FC Dallas to a successful 2016 season. (Photo: Mexsport)

FRISCO, Texas – Despite posting a 2-1 win over the visiting Seattle Sounders in the second leg of the Major League Soccer Western Conference semifinals on Sunday, FC Dallas was eliminated from the playoffs, 4-2 on aggregate.

Tesho Akindele (25’) and Maximiliano Urruti (56’) struck once in each half for the host, but Nicolas Lodeiro’s goal nine minutes after the break gave Seattle all insurance it needed. 

Although the setback was a disappointment, Dallas did achieve three of its four objectives by advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2016 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, winning the U.S. Open Cup and finishing with the best regular-season record in MLS to capture the Supporters’ Shield.

“Today, we played a good team and, obviously, for me it’s a feeling of great admiration and respect for my players for the effort they put into the field to get that result,” head coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “Still, it was a hill that was very high to climb today. We have to humbly accept it and recognize what we have done during this year.

“It is a difficult time, but we have to keep our heads up and just look back to see how this journey has been. I think this group of players, and the people involved in the development of this group should feel proud. We couldn't have the luxury to allow one goal today because that would put us away. After that goal, we had the opportunity not just to win the game but to score the two goals that we needed.”

The demands of competing on three fronts eventually took a toll on FCD. In eight months, it competed in 45 official games – 36 in the MLS regular season and playoffs, five in the U.S. Open Cup and four in the Champions League.

“They have been fighting for three tournaments, and for the last three and a half months every game was a must-win game,” finished Pareja. “If we wanted to win the U.S. Open Cup, if we wanted to lead the Supporters’ Shield until the end, if we wanted to advance in the CONCACAF Champions League, all of those games were in that type of moment…that we had to win it.

“For me, to see the effort and the energy that this group of players had especially in the first half it was exemplary for the generation that is growing up here on our fields. I’m very proud and very happy but obviously sad.”

Dallas’ will have to wait until February 23, 2017, for its next competitive encounter, when it hosts Arabe Unido in the first leg of the SCCL quarterfinals.