PANAMA CITY, Panama — The expressions on their faces were of shock, and the body language after conceding the third, fourth and fifth goals displayed disbelief.
For FC Dallas, Wednesday night's 5-3 spanking by Tauro FC in CONCACAF Champions League group play was a rude awakening to their maiden experience in the tournament.
The defeat now leaves Dallas with everything to play for as they host fellow MLSers Toronto FC in a winner-takes-all group finale at Pizza Hut Park on Oct. 18.
“Our mentality was to do well tonight and not have to fight in the last and final game,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told the media after the loss at Estadio Rommel Fernández. “As it turns out, I think everybody is going to be fighting for the last game.”
Dallas also conceded the highest number of goals in a game since Hyndman took over the team midway through the 2008 season. The Panamanian side scored three times in the final 13 minutes to seal their first win of the tournament.
But even without the late-game scoring frenzy, Hyndman saw the game as a bit out of the ordinary.
“I just thought that the game from the start was very bizarre,” said Hyndman. “There were a lot of things going on that I think disrupted our team, and at the end of the day we take a defeat – a greater defeat than we’ve ever had.”
There was no shortage of disruptions on the night, with referee Marco Rodríguez handing out three red cards – including those to FCD’s Jair Benítez and Fabián Castillo – and two penalty kicks, both in Dallas' favor.
Castillo had joined Maykel Galindo, Ruben Luna and Bobby Warshaw in a makeshift starting lineup that lacked team captain Daniel Hernandez, who stayed behind in Dallas after yellow-card accumulation left him ineligible for Wednesday's match.
“I think the big thing that we noticed tonight was there really wasn’t that leadership that you really find from Daniel Hernandez,” Hyndman said. “And I really think we needed that, especially the way the game was going. We needed somebody that could be encouraging but also demanding, and I think that was a bigger gap than we thought it would be.”
In mid-August — two games into the CONCACAF Champions League group campaign — Dallas stood atop Group C with six points from two wins, both coming from outside of the United States.
But since that second victory – a weather-affected 1-0 win against Toronto FC – Dallas have gone 0-2-1 in group play, which includes Wednesday night's loss to group basement-dwellers Tauro FC.
“It was just one of those games in my mind where there was not going to be anything we were going to do to come away with a win,” Hyndman said.
Robert Casner covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com