FC Dallas (FCD) was a few minutes away from taking eventual ScotiaBank CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) winner Pachuca to added extra-time in Mexico in the early April semifinal. Unfortunately a last minute goal by Pachuca put an end to FCD’s dreams of being the first United States club to capture the CCL crown, which was in its ninth year of competition in this format.
Regardless of the loss, FC Dallas achieved a club milestone by reaching the semifinal round. FCD was one of four U.S. qualifiers for the 2016-17 tournament, as a result of their 2015 MLS regular season best Western Conference record. They were drawn into group H and played four group stage matches (home and away) from August-October 2016 against Real Esteli of Nicaragua and Suchitepequez from Guatemala. A win and two draws in the first three matches required FCD to travel to play an October 20 midweek match on a national holiday in Guatemala in need of a result to advance. Further complicating the task, FCD was also in the running for the MLS Supporters Shield and would need to also get a result in Los Angeles a few days later to win that trophy. Dallas made life difficult for itself when Tesho Akindele was credited with an own goal putting the team in a hole only 6 minutes in. A second goal for Suchitepequez in the 22nd minute seemed to put an end to FCD’s hopes to advance. Carlos Gruezo’s goal 5 minutes later opened the floodgates however and FCD scored a stunning 5 unanswered goals to complete a convincing 5-2 victory. Because this victory came while most eyes were focused on the final stages of the MLS season, the club never received the credit they deserved for this win. I can’t remember a time when any MLS club won so convincingly in Central America.
The win sent FC Dallas into the knock-out stages of the competition. 7th seeded FCD drew 2nd seed Arabe Unido from Panama in the quarterfinal stage. Since the second leg would be played in Panama City, FCD needed a convincing first leg win on February 23rd in Frisco. That win was delivered as two goals from Kellyn Acosta and goals from Cristian Colman and Michael Barrios led the team to a 4-0 victory, effectively ending the series. FCD lost 2-1 in Panama a week later, but the 5-2 aggregate score line sent them into the semifinal round.
FCD, as the lower seed again, hosted the opening match of the semifinals against C.F. Pachuca in Frisco on March 15. An opening 3rd minute goal from Pachuca’s Franco Jara stunned the home crowd, but goals from Maxi Urruti and a masterpiece free kick (video below) from Kellyn Acosta completed a 2-1 first leg win. This victory was the first time an MLS U.S. team had beaten a Liga MX team in the semifinal round of the CCL tournament.
Unfortunately, the dream came to an end in Pachuca on April 4th. After falling behind 2-0, Cristian Colman’s shock goal leveled the aggregate score in the 86th minute. Unfortunately, with added extra time seconds away, Hirving Lozano flatfooted Dallas goalkeeper Chris Seitz with the series winner on a cross that found the back of the net. Highlights of this match below:
The loss ended up being a bitter one as FC Dallas felt they had a squad that could win the tournament. Nevertheless, nothing can be taken away from their achievements in the 2016-2017 CCL.
FC Dallas doesn’t have long to wait for another crack at the CCL trophy. Last night the club found out that they will play another Panamanian side, FC Tauro, in the first knock-out round of the 2017-2018 CCL, with the two legged series being played on TBD dates between February 20-March 1. The tournament format changed this year and all MLS and LigaMX teams automatically advanced to the quarterfinal round and no group stage games were required.
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