FC Dallas "built to win a championship," dominate Portland Timbers

FRISCO – Coming on the heels of arguably the most taxing road trip in FC Dallas history and playing without multiple starters and key contributors, FC Dallas managed yet another statement win in Frisco.

FC Dallas led from gavel to gavel and completed a season sweep of the Timbers with Saturday's 3-1 victory, notching three wins in three games with an 8-3 edge in goals.

“We remember how we went out last year and how we were so close and how we let it go in the first leg at their house,” said midfielder Victor Ulloa, who scored FCD’s second goal. “We had that in consideration this year. We went up there and finally won at their home, and we consider them a conference rival. We wanted to win, we wanted to win at home and keep that undefeated streak going (19-match home unbeaten streak).”

Head coach Oscar Pareja called his team the “best team,” praising his club for creating chances start to finish. FC Dallas dominated possession, outshot the Timbers 9-1, and won nearly 60 percent of duels.

All of that came with regulars such as Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo, Maynor Figueroa and Tesho Akindele all unavailable due to international duty.

“We’ve said it since the beginning of the year – we want to win something for this club and for us,” Ulloa said. “Tonight the guys did great and we showed that character and resilience, even with the guys gone for the national team. We’re built to win a championship, and we’re built to step up. Everybody stepped up a little bit tonight.”

FC Dallas can thank their lucky stars that one mainstay in particular, Mauro Diaz, stayed put in Frisco this week. In a match that tied his career best for matches played in a season – 27, a number that spans all competitions – Diaz set the tone by scoring on a PK in the 14th minute, and then putting the icing on the cake with a perfectly placed ball in the 53rd to find the head of a cutting Walker Zimmerman to make the score 3-0.

The assist was his 11th of the season, marking a career high, and the goal was his fifth, which is three off his career-high he set last year.

“He’s a competitor. He pulls the strings for us, and once again he showed it tonight,” Ulloa said. “What a great ball to Walker [Zimmermann] – we know he’s deadly on those set pieces, and we have to take advantage of it. I’m glad Walker got on the end of it.”

FC Dallas now sit at 51 points on the season with six MLS contests to go, and are still very much in the driver’s seat for the Supporters’ Shield. They also are one win away from winning the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup – a final they’ll host on Sept. 13 in a building they have yet to lose in this season.

But they aren’t counting their chickens just yet, which is something Pareja appreciates, even after a dominating performance with a depleted starting lineup.

“The thing I like the most is that this group is taking the journey one step at a time,” Pareja said. “I don’t want them to overthink too many things. I want them just to come and perform every day the way they are. That made me feel very honored to coach them."