FC Dallas defender Walker Zimmerman (left) is one of the rising young stars in CONCACAF. (Photo: Mexsport)
PACHUCA, Mexico – Walker Zimmerman’s emergence as a key member of the FC Dallas defense has been one of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League's most sensational stories.
The 23-year-old has appeared in four of FCD’s seven games in the competition, while also starting in each of the 34 MLS regular- and post-season games in which he has played since the start of the 2016 season. As a result of his fine club performances, Zimmerman earned his way into the United States set-up, winning his first cap in a friendly against Jamaica this past February.
On the strength of that already impressive and growing resume, the former Furman University standout is unfazed by Dallas’ visit to Pachuca on Tuesday for the second leg of the SCCL semifinal series, which the U.S. power leads 2-1.
“We’re a team that believes a lot in ourselves,” Zimmerman told CONCACAF.com, when asked his thoughts about FCD’s deep SCCL run. “The culture that we have here is that we want to win. We believe that we can win. I don’t think it’s a surprise to us that we’re here.”
FC Dallas has never won an MLS title, but it has captured a pair of U.S. Open Cup crowns, including one last year. Lifting another trophy is all the motivation Zimmerman and his teammates need for the crucial Pachuca encounter.
“It has a feel of one of those massive playoff games…the second leg of a playoff where it is do or die,” he expressed. “You lose, you go home…that’s the bottom line. We have a tough task at hand. They are a great team, but we believe in ourselves and look forward to the challenge.”
A significant part of that challenge is figuring out a way to avoid defeat against a Pachuca side that is 12W-1D-0L in 13 all-time SCCL home games…and one that has four CONCACAF club titles under its belt.
In order to best tackle the strategic and physical questions, FCD has been training in Puebla, Mexico, since March 29.
“We got here a week ago to prepare for the altitude,” finished Zimmerman. “We’re doing everything that we can to make sure that we’re as physically and mentally fit as we can be for this game. We’re chomping at the bit to get out there. We’re all excited to get out there and prove to the CONCACAF region that we’re here and we’re here to win it.”
Such an outcome would be another feather in the cap Zimmerman’s early career and FC Dallas’ 22-year history.