FC Dallas looks to turn around fortunes in playoff push
A year after finishing with the best record in the MLS, FC Dallas is scrambling to get into the playoffs. After drawing with the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night, the team is currently sitting in a three-way tie with Real Salt Lake and in-state rival Houston Dynamo for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
FC Dallas faced off against a familiar foe on Saturday night; drawing 0-0 with the team that knocked FC Dallas out of the MLS Playoffs last season. A year ago, the Sounders took down a #1 seeded FC Dallas squad last season on their way to winning the MLS Cup.
Saturday’s draw marked the ninth straight game that FC Dallas has played without a win. The team last notched a victory on July 22 against the Montreal Impact. It has drawn in its last four home matches.
While it is not a win, head coach Oscar Pareja felt good about gaining a point in the standings against one of the top teams in the MLS.
“I thought the game tactically and defensively was very good for us,” Pareja said after the game. “And that at least is a big step forward with a team that was dropping not just points but (had) performances where we feel very fragile.”
FC Dallas did have some chances to put the ball in the back of the net. In the 18th minute, the team strung together a sequence of brilliant passes, setting up a shot for Mauro Diaz, whose attempt rolled wide left.
Later in the half, Seattle’s keeper Stefan Frei dove to save a strike off the foot of midfielder Kellyn Acosta.
FC Dallas had its last real opportunity to take the lead late in the game, as a cross whistled past substitute Cristian Colmán, who was unmarked in front of the net.
“I saw them fighting,” Pareja said. “I saw them just trying to find ways to get those goals and not allowing the goals… that keeps us in the balance to get the three points that we need.”
A soft schedule could aid FC’s Dallas’ efforts to right the ship and make the postseason for the fourth straight year. Five of the club’s remaining six games will be against teams that are currently in the bottom three spots in their respective conferences. The one game that is not is a rematch against these Sounders.
FC Dallas fans have two more chances to see their team play at home in the regular season: a September 27 match against the Colorado Rapids and the season finale, which comes on October 22 against the LA Galaxy.
What will be key in the club’s playoff push going forward? Strong performances on both ends of the pitch.
“You get points through good performances,” Pareja said. “Today we fixed one side, on the other one we were short.”