With a third straight win on Wednesday night, FC Dallas showed they can win a gritty 1-0 game — breaking Nashville's five-game undefeated streak in the process — and putting them within touching distance of a top-four finish in the West and a home playoff match to boot.
For Ryan Hollingshead, who scored the lone goal in the match, that's a welcome development.
"I mean, we're really, really dominant at home," he said following the game. "We're still figuring ourselves out on the road, and we're still confident. We like our chances on the road. But we love our chances at home. And so everything that we can do in our power to make that possible, to get a home game, we're going to try. We've set ourselves up really well now with this win."
It's not just that FCD got themselves into fourth in the West with the victory — it's that they've put together a good run of results, beating a team that's confounded them earlier in the season to extend their current unbeaten streak to four matches.
"It's taking that momentum from the regular season into playoffs," Hollingshead noted. "If we can get into playoffs with a couple of wins in a row under our belt, and have that momentum and that confidence, I think we can really make a run. You've seen in our season, we've lost to maybe some of the lesser teams, but then we beat some of the leaders in the West and East. It's a weird league, and it's been a weird season."
"We like our chances against anybody," he added. "We're not afraid to play anybody."
Highlights: Nashville SC 0, FC Dallas 1
Hollingshead also echoed something that head coach Luchi Gonzalez said in the post-game press conference: With the pandemic creating uncertainty around possible match cancellations, the team treated this match like it was their last possible chance to make up ground in the West race.
"We said before this game, play this game as if there's no Minnesota game," Gonzalez said, referring to the team's Decision Day finale against the Loons on Sunday. "There's no guarantee you're going to play Minnesota because of the virus, and because of everything that we've gone through with the league. So play this game in Nashville like it could be your last day of the regular season. And I'm proud of the boys to show that at that determination, and hopefully we get to play Minnesota and take care of business there."
Gonzalez is also encouraged by what he's seen from the team lately, citing the Oct. 24 scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake. In that match, FC Dallas was outshot 24-8 but still managed to keep the clean sheet.
"We gained momentum here the last few games," he observed. "There are all these key moments that can change your season or change your momentum. I'm just so proud of the players to find resilience in the experience we've had this year. Our goal is to make the playoffs, so once we made the playoffs, which is the primary number one goal, we saw, mathematically, we could fight for a home playoff situation, which we did not earn last year. So that became the next objective, and it's going to continue to be here till the end."
Looking back, one of those key moments might be the goal in this match. Hollingshead said that he was worried he might be whistled offside, though he appeared to keep his run just onside in the buildup.
"It was just a classic Hollingshead goal, right?" he laughed. "Just scrappy and getting the rebound ... I should have just finished the play out from the start, and not even thought about whether I was going to be offside or not. You know how many times I tell myself that, and we tell our forwards that. Finish the play out until they call offside."