Action from the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League match between visiting FC Dallas (red jersey) and Real Esteli on August 24, 2016, in Esteli, Nicaragua. (Photo: Mexsport)
ESTELI, Nicaragua – With simultaneous success in three major competitions, FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja praised his team after it took sole possession of first place in Group H of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
FC Dallas, which played host Real Esteli to a 1-1 draw Wednesday, also has the best record in Major League Soccer and has earned a place in next month’s U.S. Open Cup final. Winning any of those competitions would quality the team for the 2017/18 SCCL.
"It’s not an easy task for the boys," Pareja said. "They are doing a terrific job."
The 48-year-old Colombian was particularly pleased with the way FCD rebounded after surrendering a goal to Esteli’s Elvis Figueroa in the fifth minute. Saint Kitts & Nevis international defender Atiba Harris headed in a free kick to level two minutes later.
"It was awesome," continued Pareja. "It is great to have something that characterizes this group. The response after the mistake we made in the first few minutes was phenomenal. There are still a lot of things we need to get better at though. We should not be giving up that type of goal so early in the match. It is something that frustrates us for sure, but the response was great."
He also heaped high praise on veteran Honduras international Maynor Figueroa and his experience.
"He had a big game," Pareja commented about the 33-year-old. "I am very pleased with his performance and the leadership that he brings to our team. I moved him into the middle today to give us more ideas there.
"He knows the region well. He knows the referees and the atmospheres. He knows the cities. He helps us to grow."
There will be no rest for the weary. Dallas plays at the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.
“We have to turn our mind around again,” Pareja finished. “We have been shifting from one competition to the other for a while now. We are fortunate to be able to say we are in the final of the U.S. Open Cup. We are first in our group in CONCACAF Champions League. We are still fighting for the first position in the league table. We need to turn around again, quickly.”