CCL: Exhausted FC Dallas run out gas in first loss

Martin Bravo, George John, Ugo Ihemelu

Photo Credit: 
MexSport

FRISCO, Texas — Playing in their 40th game of the 2011 season, FC Dallas simply did not have enough energy to see another game out Wednesday night.

“It’s been a long three months for us,” FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said after the team’s 2-0 CONCACAF Champions League group stage loss to Mexican champs Pumas UNAM. “What I’m seeing is we fight very hard for that 25 to maybe 35 minutes, and then fatigue starts to set in.”

Pumas scored a pair of late goals on crosses from Emilio Orrantía – who ran freely along the right flank after entering the half at halftime – leaving FC Dallas with seven points in Group C and two games to play.

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“We are starting to find a lot of players that are not making that extra effort or that extra run or that extra positioning to defend,” continued Hyndman. “So [it’s] something that we have talked about and we will continue to work on it.”

Offensively, FC Dallas failed to generate a shot on goal, but the defense did their part on the night to keep the pesky Pumas side from finding the back of the net.

That is, until Eduardo Aguirre put home an Orrantia cross in the 84th minute and sucked the life from the diligent defensive display. 

“It just came down to fatigue,” said defender Ugo Ihemelu, who played right back for the suspended Zach Loyd. “Guys' legs got heavy and they just kept coming. They came in here with a lot to prove after losing at home. I think they had a lot of pressure on them and they’re a quality team.”

Center back George John echoed Ihemelu’s comments.

“We did a good job of keeping it level for most of the game,” John said. “We just got tired legs at the end.”

Ahead for FC Dallas is one more long-distance travel south to Panama before rounding out the CCL group stage with a home game against MLS counterparts Toronto FC.

Wednesday’s loss passed up the opportunity to clinch a position in the elimination rounds, and with precious league games still to come and determine the playoff positions, Hyndman realized the lost opportunity.

“What we were hoping was we could win this game tonight,” he said. “Because we could maybe back off the next two championship league games and start to get some of our legs back. I think it’s something we can overcome mentally and for us it’s going to be the psychological things that have been happening.”

Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.